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THE " Art of Prolonging Life," by Christopher William 
Hufeland, a philosophic physician and professor of medicine 
in the University of Jena, is a work enjoying a deserved 
popularity in Germany ,'where it has gone through several 
editions. Though translated into English, in 1797, it is 
but little known in this country, less indeed, as it appeared 
to the Editor, than its merits deserve ; and it is under the 
hope of being able to fill a vacant niche in popular litera- 
ture, and restoring to his proper sphere of usefulness an able 
and accomplished instructor, that the Editor has now un- 
dertaken the present edition of his book. In its English 
costume, and bearing a dedication to George Christopher 
Lichtenberg, Counsellor of State to his Britannic Majesty, 
and one of the Professors in the University of Gbttingen, 
the work was published in two octavo volumes, with respect- 
able and roomy type, short lines, shorter pages, and broad 
margins, an effectual prohibition to its wide diffusion. The 
translation bears the impress of a master's hand ; it is ele- 
gant and exact, and in the Editor's judgment, is the pro- 
duction of the learned author's own pen. Under this belief, 
the Editor has selected the translation of 1794, with its pure 
and classic language, for the present volume, in preference 
to a new translation from a later German edition. 

The Reader will probably be struck, as was the Editor, 


with the little real progress which has been made in the 
science of living during the more than half a century since 
the original work was first written ; and the feeling of a ne- 
cessity for bringing the matter up to the present line of 
march will be dissipated by its perusal. Indeed it seemed 
to the Editor more fitting as a ground of wholesome reflec- 
tion, that we should have placed before our eyes the philos- 
ophy of half a century back, that we might thereby learn 
how much still remained to be done, before our knowledge 
of the subject could be regarded as complete. 

With an elegant translation, then, done to his hand, all 
that remained to the Editor was a labor of taste ; to adapt 
the work to the modes of thinking and feeling of the present 
day, certain truths, too true to be allowed to stand forth in 
all their naked proportions, required a veil to be thrown 
around the.m ; words that betrayed the foreign source of 
the translation, and bore a meaning different to that which 
would have been deduced from their construction, required 
to be exchanged for terms of more obvious nationality ; and, 
in a few instances, certain elaborate disquisitions, bordering 
on absolute prose, needed to be expunged altogether. The 
temple of knowledge, at the present day, is called on to put 
forth all its allurements to invite mankind to enter its portals, 
while with equal care its harsher features must be thrown 
into the shade. The art of the arrangement consists in 
softening the rude by its combination with the refined ; in 
accustoming the senses to the subdued tints before the more 
sombre shadows are developed. In this, and a few necessary 
notes, the whole of the Editor's labor is embraced. 

June, 1853. 


THE life of man, physically considered, is a peculiar chem- 
ico-animal operation ; a phenomenon effected by a concur- 
rence of the united powers of Nature with matter in a con- 
tinual state of change. This, like every other physical ope- 
ration, must have its defined laws, boundaries, and duration, 
so far as they depend on the sum of the given powers and 
matter, their application, and many other external as well 
as internal circumstances ; but, like every other physical 
operation, it can be promoted or impeded, accelerated or re- 
tarded. By laying down just principles respecting its essence 
and wants, and by attending to observations made from 
experience, the circumstances under which this process may 
be hastened and shortened, or retarded and prolonged, can 
be discovered. Upon this may be founded dietetic rules and a 
medical mode of treatment for preserving life ; and hence 
arises a particular science, the MACROBIOTIC, or the art of 
prolonging it, which forms the subject of the present work. 

This art, however, must not be confounded with the com- 
mon art of medicine or medical regimen : its object, means, 
and boundaries are different. The object of the medical art 
is health; that of the macrobiotic, long life. The means 
employed in the medical art are regulated according to the 


present state of the body and its variations ; those of the 
macrobiotic, by general principles. In the first it is suffi- 
cient if one is able to restore that health which has been 
lost; but no person thinks of inquiring whether, by the 
means used for that purpose, life, upon the whole, will be 
lengthened or shortened ; and the latter is often the case in 
many methods employed in medicine. The medical art must 
consider every disease as an evil which cannot be too soon 
expelled ; the macrobiotic, on the other hand, shows that 
many diseases may be the means of prolonging life. The 
medical art endeavors, by corroborative and other remedies, 
to elevate mankind to the highest degree of strength and 
physical perfection ; while the macrobiotic proves that here 
even there is a maximum, and that strengthening, carried 
too far, may tend to accelerate life, and consequently, to 
shorten its duration. The practical part of medicine, there- 
fore, in regard to the macrobiotic art, is to be considered 
only as an auxiliary science which teaches us how to know 
diseases, the enemies of life, and how to prevent and expel 
them ; but which, however, must itself be subordinate to the 
higher laws of the latter. 

Long life has at all times been the chief wish, the principal 
object of mankind ; but how confused and contradictory are 
all the plans ever proposed for obtaining it! The stern 
theologist derides such attempts ; and asks, if the period of 
existence is not determined to every being and who is 
able to add a hair-breadth to his stature, or a minute to the 
duration of his existence ? The practical physician exclaims, 
why do you search for the particular means of prolonging 


life ? Employ my art ; take care of your health, guard 
against diseases, and cure those which have appeared. This 
is the only way to promote longevity. The adept shows his 
vital elixir, and boldly asserts that those who will persevere 
to take that incorporated spirit of life may hope to become 
old. The philosopher endeavors to resolve the problem, by 
teaching men to despise death, and to double life by enjoy- 
ment. The innumerable legion of quacks and empirics, on 
the other hand, who have gained the confidence of the mul- 
titude, inspire them with a belief that there are no surer 
means of becoming old, than to let blood at proper times, and 
to use cupping, purgatives, etc. 

It appeared to me, therefore, useful and necessary to 
rectify the ideas of the public on a matter of so much impor- 
tance ; and to bring this science back to solid and simple 
principles, by which it might acquire that connection and 
systematic order of which it hath hitherto been destitute. 

For eight years this subject has been the favorite employ- 
ment of my leisure hours ; and it will give me great happi- 
ness if it be to others only half as serviceable as it has been 
to me. The present melancholy age, so destructive to man- 
kind, induced me to engage in this undertaking ; and the 
idea of its being useful, while it afforded me the highest con- 
solation, encouraged me to pursue my researches. 

My chief aim was to establish the Art of prolonging Life 
on systematic grounds, and to make known the means for 
accomplishing that object ; but, to convey a proper idea of 
the whole, it was necessary to comprehend some concomitant 
circumstances which gradually presented themselves to my 


notice. This, in the first place, appeared to be the best way 
of giving a higher interest and more general value to many 
dietetic rules ; because I have always found that much less 
impression is made when one says, this or that substance, this 
or that mode of living, is healthful or unhealthful, (since this 
is relative, and depends on the strength or weakness of the 
constitution as well as on other points, and has a reference 
to the immediate consequences, which are often impercep- 
tible, and therefore make those who are not physicians dis- 
believe the whole,) than when the proposition is thus ex- 
pressed these things, these modes of living, prolong or 
shorten life; for this depends less on circumstances, and 
cannot be judged of from the immediate consequences. And, 
secondly, this work insensibly became a repository to which 
I committed many of my favorite ideas ; where I indulged 
in many digressions suited to a citizen of the world, and was 
happy to have it in my power to connect these ideas by a 
thread so beautiful and so extensive in joining every thing 
as the thread of life. 

According to the point of view under which I necessarily 
considered my subject, it was natural that I should treat it, 
not only medically, but also morally ; for, how is it possible 
to write on human life, without taking into consideration its 
connection with the moral world, to which it so peculiarly 
belongs ? On the contrary, I have found more than once, 
in the course of my labor, that the physical man cannot be 
separated from his higher moral object : and I may, per- 
haps, reckon it a small merit in the present performance, 
that it will not only establish the truth and heighten the 


value of the moral laws, in the eyes of many, by showing 
that they are indispensably necessary for the physical sup- 
port and prolongation of life but that it demonstrates, that 
the physical nature of man has been suited to his higher 
moral destination ; that this makes an essential difference be- 
tween the nature of man and the nature of animals ; that with- 
out moral cultivation man is in continual contradiction with 
his own nature ; and that, by culture alone, he becomes even 
physically perfect. May I be so fortunate, by these means, 
as to accomplish two objects : not only to render the life of 
man more healthful and longer; but also, by exciting his 
exertions for that purpose, to make him better and more 
virtuous ! I can at any rate assert, that man will in vain 
seek for the one without the other, and that physical and 
moral health are as nearly related as the body and the soul. 
They flow from the same sources ; become blended together ; 
and when united, the result is, HUMAN NATURE ENNOBLED 


I must here observe, that as this work is not designed 
merely for physicians, but for the public in general, I was 
obliged in some points to be more diffuse, and in others 
shorter, than if I had written for the former alone. I had, 
in particular, a regard to young people ; because I am con- 
vinced that the grounds of a long or a short life can be most 
effectually laid at an early period ; and that, through unpar- 
donable negligence in the education of youth, information on 
this subject, so important to their physical happiness, is 
entirely forgotten. I have, therefore, placed in the clearest 
light those points most necessary to be known at an early 


age ; and, in general, have treated my subject so that the 
book may be put into the hands of young persons without 
any danger : and it will afford me inexpressible joy if it 
be not only recommended to them, but employed also in 
schools, to convey instruction respecting their physical well- 
being which must indeed be given in such seminaries, as 
I unfortunately know, by long experience, that in colleges 
it will be for the most part too late. 

My readers, I hope, will forgive me for not supporting 
with quotations every instance I have adduced, and every 
fact related. My motive for omitting them was an appre- 
hension of swelling the work too much, and of rendering it 
too expensive. I must, however, remark, that the instances 
given of the age of man are taken chiefly from Bacon's His- 


To conclude, I will readily allow, that many parts of this 
work might have been written in a better and fuller manner; 
but I console myself with the agreeable persuasion, which no 
one can deprive me of, that what I have said may be use- 
ful, and that its utility will recommend it, and procure it 

JENA, July, 1796. 



CHAPTER I. State of this Science among the Egyptians and the 
Greeks ; Gymnastic : Gerocomic ; Hermippus. State of it in the 
middle ages; Theophrastus Paracelsus. Astrological method. 
Talismans. Thurneiser. Cornaro, and his severe regimen. 
Method by transfusion. Lord Bacon. St. Germain. Mesmer 

p. 121 

CHAPTER II. Inquiry into the nature of the vital power, and the 
duration of life in general. Properties and laws of the vital 
power. Definition of life. Vital consumption inseparable conse- 
quence of vital operation. Term of life. Causes of the duration 
of life. Retardation of vital consumption. Possibility of pro- 
longing life. Intensive and extensive life. Sleep . 22 44 

CHAPTER III. Duration of the life of plants ; diversity of it. 
Annual, biennial, perennial. Experiments respecting circum- 
stances by which this is determined ; result of them. Applica- 
tion of the fundamental principles of the duration of life. Great 
influence of attention and culture on the duration of the life of 
plants -. . 4566 

CHAPTER IV. Duration of life in the animal world. Observations 
on plant-animals. Worms. Insects. Metamorphosis an impor- 
tant mean of prolonging life. Amphibia. Fish. Birds. Ani- 
mals which suckle. Result. Influence of maturity and growth 
on the duration of life. Perfection or imperfection of organiza 
tion of life. Rapid or slow vital consumption. Restoration 



CHAPTER V. Duration of the life of man. Apparently incredible 
age of the patriarchs explained. Age of the world has no influ- 
ence on the duration of human life. Instances of great age 
among the Jews, Greeks, and Eomans. Tables of the census 
under Vespasian. Instances of great age among kings, emperors, 
and popes. Frederick II. Among hermits and monks. Philoso- 
phers and men of letters. Poets and artists. Instances of the 
greatest age to be found only among country people, hunters, gar- 
deners, soldiers, and sailors. Few to be found among physicians. 
Shortest life. Difference of age according to the climate 


CHAPTER VI. Eesult of the above observations. Age of the world 
has no influence on that of its inhabitants. Influence of climate 
and of the atmosphere. Islands and peninsulas. Countries in 
Europe most favorable to longevity. Advantages of temperance. 
The two most dreadful extremes of mortality in modern times. 
Moderation in all things has great effect in prolonging life. State 
of marriage. Female sex. Industry. Frugality. Civilization. 
Rural life. Renovation possible. Extent of human life deter- 
mined. Absolute and relative duration of it. Tables respecting 
the latter 95109 

CHAPTER VII. More particular examination of human life. Es- 
sential definition of it. Principal operations on which it depends. 
Accession from without. Assimilation and animalization. Nutri- 
tion and preparation of the organized matter. Power and organs 
consumed by life itself. Separation and destruction of exhausted 
parts. Organs necessary for life. History of life. Causes of the 
long duration of the life of man. Influence of reason and the 
higher powers of thought. Answer to the question, " Why, 
among men, who are more fitted for long life than animals, mor- 
tality, however, should be greater ? " . . . 110 129 

CHAPTER VIII. Signs of long life in individuals. Sound stomach 
and organs of digestion. Good teeth. Well-organized chest. 
Heart not too irritable. Strong natural power of restoration and 
healing. Sufficient quantity and diffusion of the vital power. 
Good temperament. Faultless and well-proportioned make of 
body. No particular weakness of any part. Portrait of a man 
destined to long life 130 138 


CHAPTER IX. Examination of various new methods for prolonging 
life. By vital elixirs. Gold tinctures, and wonder-working es- 
sences. By hardening the organs. By rest, and suspending for a 
time vital activity. By guarding against consumption, and the 
external causes of disease. By fast living. Account of the only 
methods possible by which life can be prolonged. Proper union 
of the four principal indications : Increasing of the vital power, 
Strengthening the organs, Moderating vital consumption, Fa- 
voring restoration. Modification of these methods, according to 
difference of constitution, temperament, age, and climate 





CHAPTER I. Delicate nursing and treatment in infancy . 167 

CHAPTER II. Physical excess in youth .... 169 

CHAPTER III. Over-strained exertion of the mental faculties 171 

CHAPTER IV. Diseases. Injudicious manner of treating 

them. Sudden kinds of death. Propensity to self-murder 177 

CHAPTER V. Impure air. Men living together in large cities 183 

CHAPTER VI. Intemperance in eating and drinking. Re- 
fined cookery. Spirituous liquors 185 

CHAPTER VII. Passions and dispositions of mind which 

shorten life. Peevishness. Too much occupation and business 190 

CHAPTER VHL The fear of death 193 

CHAPTER IX. Idleness. Inactivity. Languor . . . 198 
CHAPTER X. Overstrained power of the imagination. Im- 
aginary diseases. Sensibility 201 

CHAPTER XL Poisons physical as well as infectious . . 204 

CHAPTER XII. Old age. Premature ingrafting of it on youth 216 




CHAPTER I. Good physical descent 219 

CHAPTER II. Prudent physical education .... 225 

CHAPTER IH. Active and laborious youth .... 240 

CHAPTER IV. Abstinence from physical love in youth, and 

a too early assumption of the married state . . . 242 

CHAPTER V. Happy married state 246 

CHAPTER VI. Sleep 250 

CHAPTER VII. Bodily exercise 257 

CHAPTER VHL The enjoyment of free air. Moderate tem- 
perature of warmth 259 

CHAPTER IX. Rural and country life . 261 

CHAPTER X. Travelling ....... 267 

CHAPTER XL Cleanliness, and care of the skin . . . 272 

CHAPTER XH. Proper food. Moderation in eating and drink- 
ing. Preservation of the teeth 280 

CHAPTER XHI. Mental tranquillity. Contentment. Dispo- 
sitions of mind and employments which tend to prolong life 288 

CHAPTER XIV. Reality of character 293 

CHAPTER XV. Agreeable stimulants of the senses and of 

sensation moderately used ... ..... 295 

CHAPTER XVI. Preventing diseases. Judicious treatment of 

them. Proper use of medicine and physicians . . 297 

CHAPTER XVH. Relief in cases where one is exposed to 

the danger of sudden death 314 

CHAPTER XVIII. Old age. Proper treatment of it . . 321 

CHAPTER XIX. Cultivation of the mental and bodily powers 326 




State of this Science among the Egyptians and the Greeks ; Gym- 
nastic : Gerocomic ; Hermippus. State of it in the middle :i; \s ; 
Theophrastus Paracelsus. Astrological method. Talismans. 
Thurneiser. Cornaro, and his severe regimen. Method by trans- 
fusion. Lord Bacon. S. Germain. Mesmer. 

THAT incomprehensible power, that immediate influ- 
ence of the Deity which we call the vital principle, 
pervades all nature. We everywhere behold phenom- 
ena and effects which evidently announce its presence, 
though under an infinite variety of modifications and 
forms ; and the existence of life is proclaimed by the 
whole universe around us. Life is that by which plants 
vegetate, by which animals feel and are actuated ; but 
in the highest degree of perfection, sensation, and form, 
it appears, in man, the supreme link of the visible crea- 
tion. If we survey the whole chain of being, we shall 
nowhere find so complete a combination of almost all 
the vivifying powers of nature ; nowhere so much vital 


energy, united with so long duration as here. It needs 
excite no surprise, therefore, that the most perfect pos- 
sessor of this benefit should value it so highly ; and 
that the bare idea of living and existing should be 
attended with so much pleasure. All bodies become 
the more interesting to us, the more we can ascribe to 
them a kind of life and vital sensation. Nothing can 
engage our attention so much; nothing induce us to 
make so great sacrifices, and to call forth the most 
extraordinary display and exertion of our most secret 
powers, as the desire of preserving life, and of saving 
it in the moment of danger. To those, even, -who are 
deprived of its comforts and enjoyments ; to those who 
suffer under the pain of incurable disease, or who be- 
wail the loss of freedom in the gloom of a dungeon, the 
idea of living and existing presents some charms ; and 
it certainly requires a derangement of the finest organs 
of sensation, a circumstance possible only in man ; a 
total darkening and deadening of the mental faculties, 
to render life to us either disgusting or indifferent. In 
so wise and intimate a manner is the love of life, that 
desire so worthy of a thinking being, that grand pillar 
of individual and public felicity interwoven with our 
frame. It was very natural for men, therefore, to con- 
ceive the idea whether it might not be possible to pro- 
long our existence, and to give more extent to the too 
fleeting enjoyment of so valuable a blessing. This 
question, indeed, has, at all times, engaged the atten- 
tion of mankind, and in different ways. It has been a 
favorite object of the deepest thinking minds ; it has 
afforded a fine field for visionaries ; and has been the 
principal allurement employed by quacks and impos- 


tors : for we shall find that intercourse with spirits, the 
secret of making gold, or the art of prolonging life, 
were the pretences by which they deluded the multi- 
tude, and imposed on the credulity of the public. It is 
interesting, and may contribute something towards the 
history of the human mind, to see by what various, and 
often contrary, means people hoped to obtain that 
benefit ; and, as in latter times, a Cagliostro and a Mes- 
mer have supplied considerable materials for this sub- 
ject, I hope I shall be forgiven if 'I here take a short 
view, before I proceed to my main purpose, of the 
principal methods that have been employed to lengthen 
the duration of life. 

An idea of this kind prevailed, even in the earliest 
ages, among the Egyptians, the Greeks, and the Ro- 
mans. In Egypt, a country which gave birth to si 
many romantic notions, means were devised for the 
attainment of this object ; and it is not improbable that 
such researches may have been occasioned by the un- 
healthfulness of the climate, owing to its great heat, and 
the inundations of the Nile. It was believed there, 
that life could be prolonged by the continued use of 
emetics and sudorifics. It was, therefore, a general 
custom to take, at least, two emetics every month ; and 
instead of saying, How do you find yourself? one asked 
another, How do you perspire ? This passion among 
the Greeks, under the influence of a pure and serene 
atmosphere, assumed a different direction. These peo- 
ple were persuaded that a rational enjoyment of nature, 
and the continual exercise of their powers, were the 
surest means of strengthening the vital principle, arid of 


prolonging life. Hippocrates, and all the physicians 
and philosophers of that period, knew no other method 
of accomplishing this end than by moderation ; the use 
of free and pure air ; bathing ; and, above all, by daily 
friction of the body and exercise. Particular directions 
and rules were laid down for giving violent and gentle 
motion to the body in a variety of ways : a particular 
art, called the Gymnastic, hence arose ; and the great- 
est philosophers and men of learning never forgot that 
the body and the soul ought to be exercised in the 
same proportion. This art, to us almost unknown, of 
suiting exercise to the different constitutions, situations, 
and wants of man ; of employing it, above all, as the 
means of keeping his internal nature in proper activity, 
and thereby not only rendering the causes of disease 
ineffectual, but also curing diseases which have already 
appeared, they, indeed, brought to an extraordinary 
degree of perfection. One Herodicus, we are told, 
carried these ideas so far that he compelled his patients 
to walk ; to suffer their bodies to be rubbed ; and, the 
more the disease weakened them, to endeavor to over- 
come that weakness by strengthening the muscular 
powers : and he had the good fortune to lengthen seve- 
ral years, by this method, the lives of so many enfeebled 
patients, that Plato reproached him with having acted 
very unjustly towards these unfortunate people, in pro- 
longing, by artificial means, that existence of which they 
would always have less and less enjoyment. The clear- 
est ideas and most agreeable to nature on preserving and 
lengthening life may be found in Plutarch, who, by the 
happiest old age, confirmed the truth of his prescrip- 


tions. His information on this subject, he concludes 
with the following rules, which may suit also the present 
age : " Keep your head cool, and your feet warm ; in- 
stead of employing medicine for every indisposition, 
rather fast a day ; and while you attend to the body, 
never neglect the mind." 

A singular method of prolonging life, ascribed also to 
the earliest ages, was the Gerocomic ; or the custom of 
inspiring new strength and vigor into a body enfeebled 
under a load of years, by exposing it to the effluvia of 
fresh and blooming youth. A well-known instance of 
this practice may be found in the history of King David ; 
and we learn from several passages in the writings of 
the ancient physicians, that it was formerly much used, 
and considered as of great efficacy in relieving the in- 
firmities of age. Even in modern times this prescription 
has been followed with advantage. The great Boer- 
haave caused an old burgomaster of Amsterdam to sleep 
between'two young persons ; and he assures us that the old 
man acquired by these means a visible increase of vigor 
and activity. When one, indeed, reflects what change 
may be produced on diseased limbs by the vital evapo- 
ration of animals newly killed, and what may be the 
consequence of applying living animals to parts affected 
with pain, this method will appear not to be altogether 

It is highly probable that the great value which the 
Greeks and the Romans set upon inspiring pure sound 
breath may have been founded on these ideas ; and the 
following ancient inscription, discovered at Rome in the 
last century, seems to allude to this subject : 


JEsculapio et Sanitati. 

L. Clodius Hermippus, 
Qui vixit annos cxv. dies v. 

Puellarum anhelitu. 
Quod etiam post mortem ejus 
Non parum mirantur physici, 
Jam poster!, sic vitam ducite. 

To ^Esculapius and Health 


By L. Clodius Hermippus, 
Who lived cxv years v days 
By the breath of young maids. 

Whether this inscription be authentic or not, it gave 
occasion, in the beginning of the present century, to a 
work in which one Dr. Cohausen endeavors, with much 
learning, to prove that Hermippus was the master of a 
training school, or teacher of female children, at Rome, 
who, by living continually amidst a circle of young maids, 
had been enabled to prolong his life to so great an age. 
He advises people, therefore, with much benevolence, to 
expose themselves, every evening and morning, to the 
breath of young innocent maidens ; and asserts, that they 
will thereby contribute in an incredible degree, to the 
strengthening and preserving the vital power ; as, accord- 
ing to the saying of the adepts, the first matter is con- 
tained purest in the breath of innocence. 

But that long period of darkness during the middle 
ages, when all clear and natural conceptions were ban- 
ished by fanaticism and superstition ; when the specula- 
tive indolence of the cloister gave rise to some chemical 
and physical discoveries, which served rather to bewil- 
der than enlighten the understanding, and tended more 
to promote credulity than enlarge knowledge, was the 


most fertile in romantic notions on this subject. It was 
during this night of ignorance that the most monstrous 
chimeras of the human mind were produced ; and that 
those absurd ideas of witchcraft, sympathy, the philoso- 
pher's stone, occult qualities, chiromancy, cabala, uni- 
versal remedies, were established, or at least propaga- 
ted in the world ; and which unfortunately yet prevail, 
and, though in a changed and modernized form, are 
still employed to mislead mankind. Amidst that men- 
tal darkness an opinion arose, that the preservation and 
prolongation of life, which, as the gift of nature, had 
been hitherto sought for by the most natural means, 
could be obtained by chemical transmutations, by the 
help of the first matter which men thought they had 
caught in retorts, by guarding against the influence of 
malignant constellations, and by other ridiculous con- 
ceits of the like kind. I hope I shall, therefore, be 
here permitted to mention a few of the plans then pro- 
posed to mankind, which, notwithstanding their absurd- 
ity, were nevertheless credited. 

One of the most impudent quacks and greatest boast- 
ers among the prolongers of life was Theophrastus Par- 
acelsus, or, as he is better characterized by his whole 
name, Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Paracelsus 
Bombastus ab Hohenheim. He had travelled over half 
the world ; had collected receipts and wonder-working 
medicines from all quarters and corners ; and, in partic- 
ular, which was very uncommon, had studied in mines 
the nature and management of metals. He began his 
career by depreciating every thing before taught ; by 
treating all the great public seminaries with the utmost 
contempt ; by giving himself out as the first physician 


and philosopher in the world ; and by solemnly assert- 
ing that there was no disease which he could not cure, 
no life which he could not prolong. As a proof of his 
insolence and of the high tone in which the quacks of 
the fifteenth century addressed the public, I shall here 
quote the beginning of his principal work : " Ye must 
give way to me, and not I to you ; ye must give way to 
me, Avicenna, Rhases, Galen, Mesue; ye must give 
way to me, ye of Paris, ye of Montpellier, ye of Swabia, 
ye of Misnia, ye of Cologne, ye of Vienna, and what- 
ever places lie on the Danube and the Rhine: ye 
islands in the sea ; thou Italian, thou Dalmatian, thou 
Athenian, thou Greek, thou Arabian, thou Israelite; 
you must give way to me, and not I to you. The mon- 
archy is mine ! " One may readily perceive that this au- 
thor was not in the wrong when he said, " I am not fine- 
spun by nature ; " but he had the art of clothing his ab- 
surdities in so dark and mysterious language, that people 
imagined they contained the deepest secrets which they 
here and there sought to discover; and that, at any 
rate, it was impossible to contradict him. By these 
means, and by the new and accidental effects of some 
chemical preparations which he first introduced into 
medicine, he attracted great notice ; and his fame was 
so far extended, that pupils and patients flocked to him 
from every part of Europe ; and that even an Erasmus 
did not disdain to consult him. He died, however, in 
the fiftieth year of his age, though he possessed the 
stone of immortality ; and when this vegetable sulphur 
is closely examined, it is found to be nothing else than 
a hot substance much like the liquor of Hoffmann. 
But it was not enough that recourse should be had to 


chemistry and the world of spirits in order to prolong 
our days ; the stars also must be employed for that pur- 
pose. It was at the above period commonly believed, 
that the influence of the stars, which people could not 
allow themselves to suppose idle, ruled over the lives 
and fortunes of men ; that every planet or constellation 
could give to the whole frame of the being born under 
it, a certain disposition to good or evil ; and that, conse- 
quently, it was necessary only for an astrologer to know 
the hour and minute of a person's birth to discover his 
temperament, capacity, and fate ; to foretell the diseases 
to which he would be subject, the death he would die, 
and even the last day of his existence. This opinion 
prevailed not only among the ignorant multitude, but 
among the greatest, the wisest, and the most judicious 
people of the age ; and it is astonishing how long and how 
firmly they relied on these ideas, though instances could 
not be wanting of such predictions proving altogether 
false. Bishops, dignified clergymen, celebrated philos- 
ophers and physicians, gave themselves up to the cast- 
ing of nativities ; and lectures were read in colleges on 
that subject, as well as upon cabala and the art of divi- 
nation by punctures and circles. As a proof of what I 
have advanced, let me here be permitted to say a few 
words respecting the celebrated Thurneiser, the most 
brilliant phenomenon of this kind ; a man truly singu- 
lar. He resided in the last century at the electoral 
court of Berlin, and was physician in ordinary, chemist, 
nativity-caster, almanac-maker, printer, and booksel- 
ler, all in one person. His reputation in astrology was 
so great, that scarcely was there a child born in any re- 
spectable family in Germany, Poland, Hungary, Den- 


mark, and even England, whose parents did not imme- 
diately despatch a messenger to him with an exact ac- 
count of the moment of its birth. Eight, ten, and twelve 
such nativities came to him often at one time ; and he 
was at last so oppressed with them, that he was obliged 
to engage an assistant in his business. Several vol- 
umes of such questions are still preserved in the library 
at Berlin, among which there appear some letters from 
Queen Elizabeth. Besides, he composed annually an 
astrological calendar, in which was described not only 
the nature of the year in general, but also the principal 
events of it ; and the days on which they would take 
place were distinguished by abbreviations or signs. He, 
indeed, for the most part, did not give the explanation 
of them till the year following; but we find -instances of 
his having been prevailed upon by money and fair words 
to explain them before. It is astonishing what the art 
of indefinite prophetic diction and the favor of accident 
can effect. This calendar supported itself above twenty 
years ; had a rapid and extensive sale ; and, with other 
quackeries, procured to the author an estate of 100,000 

But in an art which prescribed such certain and un- 
passable boundaries to the life of man, how was it pos- 
sible to find the means of prolonging it ? This was 
-done in the following simple manner : it was supposed 
that, as every man lay under the influence of a certain 
star, every other body, plants, animals, and even whole 
districts and single houses had each its own star, by 
which it was ruled ; and that, besides, there was an in- 
timate connection and sympathy between the planets 
.and the metals. As soon as it was known from what 


constellation or planet a man's misfortune or sickness 
proceeded, nothing more was necessary than that he 
should use such food, drink, and place of residence as 
were under the government of an opposite planet. This 
produced a new regimen, but totally different from that 
of the Greeks already mentioned. If a day occurred 
which, on account of its unfavorable constellation, gave 
reason to apprehend severe sickness or other evils, 
people retired to a spot which lay under the disposition 
of a friendly star, or they took such nourishment and 
medicine as, under the protection of a beneficent star, 
would annihilate the influence of the malignant one.* 
On the same grounds people hoped for a prolongation of 
life by talismans and amulets. Because the metals 
were in intimate connection with the planets, to wear a 
talisman of the proper metal, which had been melted, 
cast, and stamped under certain constellations, was suf- 
ficient to appropriate to oneself the whole power and 
protection of the planets with which it was connected. 
People had not only talismans which averted the dis- 
eases of one planet, but talismans for all astral diseases ; 

* About that period, Marsilius Ficinus, in his Treatise on the 
Prolongation of Life, advised all prudent people to consult an 
astrologer every seven years, in order that they should be ap- 
prised of the dangers which might threaten them during the fol- 
lowing seven ; and in particular to respect and to use properly 
the means of the three holy kings, Gold, Frankincense, and 
Myrrh. M. Pansa, in the year 1470, dedicated to the Council at 
Leipsic, a book De propaganda vita ; Aureus libellus : in which he 
strongly advised these gentlemen, above all things, to make 
known their favorable and unfavorable aspects, and to be on their 
guard every seven years, because Saturn, a hostile, malignant 
planet, ruled at those periods. 


and some even which, by a particular mixture of dif- 
ferent metals, and the peculiar art employed in melting 
them, acquired the wonderful power of destroying the 
whole influence of an unlucky nativity ; of advancing 
to offices of dignity, and of rendering the most essential 
service in regard to commerce or marriage. Was Mars 
imprinted on a talisman in the sign Scorpio, and had it 
been cast under that constellation, it rendered the per- 
son who wore it invincible and invulnerable ; and the 
German soldiers were so prepossessed with this idea, 
that, as a French writer informs us, after a defeat which 
they sustained in France,, amulets were found hanging 
from the necks of all the killed and prisoners. The 
image of the planet-deity must not, however, for the 
above purpose, have an antique, but a mystic and ro- 
mantic figure and dress. For jovial diseases one had 
a talisman with the figure of Jupiter, which bore a per- 
fect resemblance to an old professor of Wittenberg or 
Basle. He was represented like a man with a beard, 
in a wide gown lined with fur, holding in the one hand 
an open book, and demonstrating with the right. I 
should not have dwelt so long on the present subject, 
had not this conceit of the last century been again 
revived a few years ago by Cagliostro, and found par- 
tisans here and there towards the end of the eighteenth. 
The more ridiculous and abstruse these conceptions 
were, the more respectable must be the memory of a 
man who could fortunately rise superior to them, and 
discover the art of prolonging life by pursuing the path 
of temperance and of nature. Cornaro, who by the 
simplest and strictest regimen, and an unexampled per- 
severance in his plan, attained happily to a great age, 


which rewarded him richly for his self-denial, and gave 
an instructive lesson to posterity, was an Italian. One 
cannot read the history of the life and abstinence of this 
veteran of eighty-three, and hear how he praises that 
serenity and contentment for which he was indebted to 
his mode of living, without participating in his happi- 
ness and his cheerful sensations. Till the fortieth year 
of his age he had led a life of dissipation ; had been 
always subject to colics, pains in his limbs, and a 
fever ; and was so far reduced by the last, that his phy- 
sicians assured him he could not live above two months ; 
that all medicine would be useless ; and that the only 
thing which could be recommended for him was a spare 
diet. Having followed this advice, he found, after some 
days, that he was much better ; and at the end of a few 
years his health was not only perfectly reestablished, 
but he became sounder than ever he had been befcre. 
He resolved, therefore, to restrain himself more and 
more, and to use nothing except what was absolutely 
necessary for his subsistence. For sixty whole years 
he took no more than twelve ounces of food, every thing 
included, and thirteen ounces of drink daily. He 
avoided also violent heat and cold, as well as passion ; 
and by this uniform regimen he kept not only his body 
but also his mind in such a state of equality that noth- 
ing was able to derange them. When at a great age, 
he lost an important lawsuit ; and though this disap- 
pointment hurried two of his brothers to the grave, he 
remained perfectly sound and resigned. He was once 
thrown from a carriage and trod under the feet of the 
horses, so that an arm and one of his feet were dislocated ; 


but he caused them to be reduced, and, without the use 
of any medicine, was soon restored to his former condi- 
tion. But what is most worthy of remark, and what 
proves how dangerous the smallest deviation from long 
custom may be, is what follows. When he was eighty 
years of age, his friends prevailed upon him, as his body 
now required more nourishment, to make a little ad- 
dition to his food. Though well aware that with the 
general decay of strength the powers of digestion de- 
crease also, and that in old age one Ought rather to les- 
sen than increase the quantity of nourishment, he gave 
way to their request, and raised his food to fourteen 
and his drink to sixteen ounces. " Scarcely," says he, 
" had I continued this mode of living ten days, when I 
began, instead of being cheerful and lively as before, to 
become uneasy and dejected, a burden to myself and to 
others. On the twelfth day, I was seized with a pain 
in my side, which lasted twenty-four hours ; and this 
was followed by a fever, which continued with so much 
violence for thirty-five days, that my life was despaired 
of. But, by the blessing of God, and my former regi- 
men, I recovered ; and now, in my eighty-third year, I 
enjoy a happy state both of body and mind. I can 
mount my horse without assistance; I climb steep hills ; 
and I have lately written a play abounding in innocent 
wit and humor. When I return home from a private 
comp'any, or the senate, I find eleven grandchildren, 
whose education, amusements, and songs are the delight 
of my old age. I often sing myself along with them, 
for my voice is now clearer and stronger than ever it was 
in my youth ; and I am a stranger to those peevish and 


morose humors which fall so often to the lot of old age." 
In this happy disposition he attained to his hundredth 
year ; but his example has never been imitated.* 

There was a period when people in France seemed 
to be so little acquainted with the value of blood, that 
Louis XIII., in the last ten months of his life, was bled 
forty-seven times ; and besides, he was made to take 
two hundred and fifteen purgatives, and to use a glyster 
two hundred and ten times. Soon after, attempts were 
made, by a process directly contrary, that of filling the 
veins with fresh youthful blood, to invigorate and pro- 
long the life of man, and to remove incurable disorders- 
This method was called transfusion : and the operation 
was performed by opening two veins, and, by means of 
a small pipe, conveying blood from the artery of an- 
other living creature into the one vein, whilst the blood 
was suffered to flow off through the other. Some success- 
ful experiments of this kind had been made in England 
upon animals ; and it is certain that some old, lame 
beasts, sheep, calves, and horses, by filling their bodies 
with the blood of a young animal, had acquired, at 
least, after some time, sufficient activity and vigor ; nay,, 
attempts were even made to inspire courage into tim- 
orous animals by the blood of some wild and ferocious- 
one. Encouraged by these experiments, people did not 
hesitate to try if they could not restore men by the same 
means. Dr. Denys and M. Emerez, at Paris, were in- 
deed so fortunate as to cure a young man who labored 
under a lethargy which had resisted all the power of 

* I would earnestly advise people, before they begin this regi- 
men in the strictest sense, to consult their physican ; for abstinence 
carried so far will not be salutary to every one. 


medicine, and during which he had been blooded twenty 
times, by filling his veins with the blood of a lamb ; and 
likewise a lunatic, by exchanging his blood for that of 
a calf. But as only the most incurable and wretched 
of mankind were chosen for these experiments, it soon 
happened that some of them died during the operation ; 
and since that time no one has ventured to try it.* It 
has, however, been practised on animals here, at Jena, 
with great success : and indeed it ought not to be en- 
lirely rejected ; for, though the strange blood introduced 
into our bodies must be soon converted into our own, 
and much, consequently, cannot be hoped from it in re- 

* Transfusion has now become a standard and most important 
(Operation, and has been the means of saving many lives. It is 
applied in cases of extreme loss of blood, wherein every other 
proceeding but that of the restoration of the lost blood must 
necessarily fail. The first idea of transfusion dates back to the 
early part of the seventeenth century, and is mentioned in 1615, 
by Andreas Libavius, in a work on the Transmutation of Metals. 
In England, the operation was performed on animals, by Dr. 
Lower and Mr. Edmund King, in the year 1666, and later in the 
same year, after the news of Denys's success on the human sub- 
ject. * Dr. Denys and M. Emerez were the first to apply transfu- 
sion to man, and their first success was very wonderful; the 
results, however, proved unsatisfactory, and the operation was 
prohibited by parliament. Dr. Riva met with a like want of suc- 
cess in Italy, and the operation was prohibited by an edict of the 
Pope. It WAS reserved for Dr. Blundell to discover the secret of 
its failure, and revive transfusion in this country; he pointed out 
the impropriety of conveying the blood of animals into the human 
system, and was the first to employ human blood for the purpose. 
By paying attention to this rule, and the invention of suitable 
apparatus, the operation may now be deemed perfectly safe ; a 
result for which we are indebted to Dr. James Blundell, Dr. 
Charles Waller, and Mr. Doubleday. EDITOR. 


gard to renewing and prolonging life, the sudden and 
unaccustomed impression made by new blood upon the 
noblest of the vital organs, may still, in certain disor- 
ders, particularly of the mind and nervous system, pro- 
duce a great and salutary revolution. 

The great Bacon, whose genius embraced every 
branch of science, and who first pointed out to the hu- 
man mind, which had long wandered amidst error, the 
path to conduct it back to truth, this great man himself 
thought the question respecting the prolongation of life 
worthy of his attention and researches. His ideas on 
this subject are bold and new. He considers life as a 
flame, which is continually consumed by the surround- 
ing atmosphere. Every body, even^the hardest, is by 
this incessant evaporation decomposed and destroyed. 
He thence concludes, that, by guarding against th's 
consumption, and by renewing our juices from time to 
time, life may be prolonged. For preventing external 
consumption, he recommends in particular the cold 
bath, and after bathing, that friction with oil and oint- 
ments which was so much practised by the ancients. 
To lessen internal consumption, he prescribes tranquil- 
lity of mind, cooling food, with the use of opium and 
opiates,* by which the too great vivacity of the internal 
emotions will be moderated, and the wasting connected 

* I trust that none of the readers of this book will be tempted 
to make vise of opium or opiates, upon this prescription of 
Bacon. That philosopher must have reasoned upon the theo- 
retical properties of opiates as sedatives ; but practical observa- 
tion proves them to be stimulants, and consequently means 
which tend to increase " internal consumption " very powerfully. 
The habitual use of opium and opiates would certainly have the 
effect of shortening rather than of lengthening life. EDITOR. 


with them will be retarded. But, to remedy the una- 
voidable desiccation and corruption of the juices, the 
attendant of increasing years, he considers the best 
method to be to undergo every two or three years a 
renovating process, which consists in first freeing the 
body from all the old and corrupted juices, by spare 
diet and cathartics ; and then again filling the dry ves- 
sels with new juices, by means of choice refreshing 
and nourishing food ; and thus, in the properest sense, 
to renew and invigorate one's self periodically. The 
truth contained in these ideas cannot be denied ; and, 
with some modification, these precepts might at all 
times be employed. 

At present, men have made more progress in the 
arts that shorten life than in that of prolonging it. 
Abundance of quacks have appeared, and still appear, 
who with astralish salts, gold tinctures, ethereal essences, 
celestial beds, and the magic of magnetism, promise 
to arrest the course of nature. It was, however, soon 
found that the celebrated tea of long life, of the Count 
de St. Germain, was only a very vulgar mixture of 
sandal-wood, senna leaves, and fennel ; that the elixir 
of life, so much boasted of by Cagliostro, was merely a 
simple but very hot stomachic ; that the wonderful vir- 
tue of magnetism depended on the combined effects of 
imagination, nervous irritation, and sensibility; and 
that the vaunted ethereal salts and gold tinctures con- 
tributed more to benefit their inventor, than to prolong 
the lives of those who employed them. 

The phenomenon of magnetism deserves in a par- 
ticular manner not to be omitted in this catalogue. 
Mesmer, an enthusiastic physician, who becoming a 


bankrupt had fallen into contempt, and who, in all 
probability, was not so much assisted by invisible pow- 
ers as encouraged by negligent magistrates, at length 
conceived the idea of making artificial magnets, which 
he sold as a sovereign remedy for many diseases, such 
as lameness, the gout, toothache, headache, etc. As he 
found that this plan succeeded, he advanced a step 
further, and asserted that he had no more occasion for 
artificial magnets, but that he himself was the grand 
magnet which should magnetize the world. His own 
person, he pretended, was so filled with magnetic vir- 
tue, that he could communicate it to another by the 
touch, by stretching out his finger, and even by a single 
look. He, indeed, produced instances of people, who, 
being touched by him, or even looked at, declared they 
had experienced sensations as if they had been struck 
with a stick, or a piece of iron. This singular virtue 
he called animal magnetism ; and he connected with 
that strange appellation whatever is dearest to man, 
life, wisdom, and health; which by these means he 
could dispense and diffuse at his pleasure. 

As he was not long permitted to propagate his en- 
thusiasm at Vienna, he removed to Paris ; and it was 
there that he first properly began to exhibit. He had 
astonishing success ; every one wished to be cured by 
him ; and all were desirous of participating in his virtue, 
and of being able to perform miracles also. He estab- 
lished a secret society, every member of which was 
obliged to subscribe 100 louis d'ors ; and he at length 
boldly declared that he was the man whom Providence 
had chosen for the grand business of renovating human 
nature, so visibly decayed. As a proof of what has 


been here said, I shall lay before the reader only the 
following address, which he caused to be made to the 
public by one of his apostles : " Behold a discovery 
which will bring invaluable advantages to mankind, 
and eternal fame to its author ! Behold a general 
revolution ! Other men will inhabit the- earth ; they 
will be checked in their career of life by no weakness ; 
and will be acquainted with our evils only by tradition ! 
Mothers will suffer less from the dangers of pregnancy 
and the pains of childbirth ; and they will bring forth 
stronger children, who will possess the activity, energy, 
and courage of the old world. Animals and plants, 
alike susceptible of . the magnetic virtue, will be free 
from diseases ; flocks will more easily increase ; the 
productions in our gardens will have more vigor ; the 
trees will produce more beautiful fruit ; and the human 
mind, in possession of this agent, will perhaps present 
to Nature effects still more wonderful. Who can know 
how far its influence may extend?" 

One might imagine that one here read some of those 
dreams of the middle ages ; but all these pompous 
promises, and the prospects which they gave rise to, 
instantly vanished, when a commission, at the head of 
which was Dr. Franklin, had closely examined the 
agency of this magnetism. The veil was withdrawn, 
and nothing has remained of the whole deception ex- 
cept animal electricity, and the conviction that it can 
be put in activity by handling and stroking the body 
various ways ; but it is certain that, without the help of 
nervous weakness and enthusiasm, it will never produce 
these wonderful phenomena, and that it is still less able 
to prolong the life of man. 


It almost appears that mankind wish now to abandon 
these ideas entirely to quacks, especially as the more 
enlightened part make amends for the failure of this in- 
vention, by having found that length of life does not 
consist in number of days, but in the use and enjoyment 
of it. 

But as it is impossible that the one can make up for 
the other, and as at present our acquaintance with the 
nature of organized life, and the laws to which it is sub- 
jected, has been enlarged and carried to greater perfec- 
tion, it is worth while to employ this improved knowledge 
in examining a matter of so much importance, and to 
establish the method of prolonging life in such a manner, 
on the principles of physics and animal economy, that 
not only a more definite rule of life may be thence de- 
duced, but also that this object in future may be ren- 
dered of no use to quacks and impostors, who, as is well 
known, can carry on their deceptions within the pre- 
cincts of science only so long as they are not enlightened 
by the torch of accurate investigation. 


Inquiry into the nature of the vital power and the duration of life 
in general. Properties and laws of the vital power. Definition of 
life. Vital consumption inseparable consequence of vital opera- 
tion. Term of life. Causes of the duration of life. Eetardation 
of vital consumption. Possibility of prolonging life. Intensive and 
extensive life. Sleep. 

THE first thing necessary in regard to the prolonga- 
tion of life must undoubtedly be a more intimate ac- 
quaintance with the nature of life, and in particular with 
the vital power, the grand cause of all life. 

May it not be possible, therefore, to investigate more 
accurately the internal nature of that sacred flame, and 
thence to discover by what it can be nourished, and by 
what it is weakened ? I am perfectly sensible of the 
boldness of this undertaking. I approach the sanctum 
sanctorum of Nature ; and we have too many instances 
of daring adventurers, who, blinded in such attempts, 
were obliged to turn back with confusion ; and Hallcr 
himself, her most intimate confidant, was forced to ex- 
claim : 

No mortal being, howe'er keen his eye, 
Can into Nature's deepest secrets pry. 

This, however, ought not* to deter us. Nature is, at 
all times, a kind mother ; she loves and rewards those 
who seek for her ; and though it may not always be 


possible for us to reach the perhaps too exalted object 
of our aim, we may, nevertheless, be certain to find, by 
the way, so much new and interesting matter as will 
amply reward us for attempting to approach nearer to 
her. Let us only beware of forcing ourselves upon her 
with too rash and precipitate steps; let our minds be 
unprejudiced and open to conviction ; let our progress 
be cautious ; let us ever be attentive to guard against 
deception and phantoms of the mind ; and let our path, 
if not the most convenient, be the certain path of expe- 
rience and of regular proof; and let us shun the bolder 
flights of hypothesis, which, in the end, generally prove 
to the world that the wings which supported them were 
cemented with wax. In this path we shall, with the 
greatest certainty, avoid the fate of those philosophers 
of whom Bacon says, with much justice, " They a.'e 
night-owls, who see their visions in darkness, but be- 
come blind in tlie light of experience ; and who per- 
ceive least that which is clearest." By this path, and 
with such a disposition of mind, the friends of Nature, 
since the time of that great man, have approached 
nearer to her than any one ever did before ; discoveries 
have been made respecting her most hidden secrets ; 
and her most concealed powers have been applied to 
purposes which astonish the present age, and which will 
still excite the wonder of posterity. By these means it 
has been possible, through indefatigable research, even 
without knowing the internal nature of things, to de- 
termine and estimate her powers and properties so ac- 
curately that we at least have a practical knowledge of 
them, and can employ them for the uses of life. The 
mind of man has thus been able to subdue even un- 


known agents ; to direct them according to pleasure, 
and render them of utility. The magnetic and the 
electric power are agents which both elude our senses, 
and whose nature will, perhaps, remain eternally un- 
searchable ; yet we have rendered them so serviceable 
to us, that by the one we can direct our course through 
the ocean, and with the other kindle our night-lamp 
while in bed. 

I also, perhaps, shall be able to approach nearer to 
Nature in the present research ; and I flatter myself 
that the following method of treating my subject will be 
the most proper to enable me to attain the object I have 
in view : first, to define more accurately what is meant 
by life and the vital power, and also to establish their 
properties : next, to consult Nature respecting the dura- 
tion of life in general, and that of different organized 
bodies in particular ; to collect and compare examples ; 
and, from the circumstances and situations in which the 
life of a created being has a longer or shorter duration, 
to draw a general conclusion in regard to the most prob- 
able causes of the shortness or long duration of exist- 
ence. After these premises, a more rational and satis- 
factory answer may be given to the question, Whether 
and in what manner the life of man can be prolonged ? 

What is life ? and what is the vital power ? These 
questions may be classed among many of the like kind 
which occur to us during our researches into Nature.. 
They appear simple ; relate to the most common phe- 
nomena; and are, however, difficult to be answered. 
Wherever the philosopher uses the word Power, one 
may always be assured that he labors under a difficulty, 
since he explains a thing by a word which is itself a 


problem ; for, who has ever yet combined a clear idea 
with the word Power ? In this manner has been intro- 
duced into physics an infinite variety of powers: the 
power of gravity, the power of attraction, the electric 
power, the magnetic power, which, at bottom, signify 
nothing more than the letter that expresses the unknown 
quantity in algebra. We must, however, have expres- 
sions for things whose existence is undeniable, though 
their agency be incomprehensible ; and I hope I shall 
be here permitted to use them, though it is not yet de- 
termined whether what I treat of be really matter, or 
only a property of it. 

The vital power is, without dispute, one of the most 
general, the most incomprehensible, and the most pow- 
erful of all the powers of Nature. It fills and gives mo- 
tion to every thing ; and, in all probability, is the graid 
source from which all the other powers of the physical, 
or at least the organized world proceed. It is that 
which produces, supports, and renews every thing ; by it 
the creation, after so many thousands of years, revives 
every spring with the same freshness and beauty as 
when it first came from the hand of its Maker. It is 
inexhaustible and infinite, a real eternal emanation of 
the Deity. In short, it is this which, purified and 
exalted by a more perfect organization, kindles up the 
powers of thought and of the soul ; and which gives to 
rational beings, together with life, the sensation and 
enjoyment of it. For I have remarked, that the sensa- 
tion of the value and felicity of life is always very near- 
ly proportioned to the greater or less abundance of the 
vital power ; and that, as a certain overflow of it makes 
one more capable of action and exertion, and of relish- 


ing life, nothing is so capable as a want of it to produce 
that misery and dejection which unfortunately distin- 
guish the present age so much. 

By accurate observation of its phenomena in the or- 
ganized world, the following properties and laws of it 
may be established : 

1st. The vital power is the most subtle, the most pen- 
etrating, and the most invisible agent of Nature, with 
which we are as yet acquainted. In these respects it 
exceeds light, electricity, and magnetism, to which, how- 
ever, it seems to have the closest affinity. 

2nd. Though it pervades every thing, there are cer- 
tain modifications of matter to which it appears to have 
greater relationship than to others. It unites, therefore, 
with these in greater abundance, as well as in a more 
intimate manner, and becomes, as it were, peculiar to 
them. This modification of matter we call organic com- 
bination, and structure of component parts ; and the 
bodies which possess them we call organized bodies, 
plants and animals. This organic structure seems to 
consist in a certain disposition of the finest particles, and 
we here find a remarkable similarity of the vital power 
to that of magnetism ; as the latter, by a stroke given to 
a piece of iron, in a certain direction, and which alters 
the internal disposition of the finest component parts, is 
immediately excited, and may be again destroyed by a 
contrary derangement. That, at any rate, the organic 
structure does not lie in the visible tissue or web, may 
be seen in an egg, in which no traces of organized life 
can be found, though it is certain that it there exists. 

3rd. It can exist both in a free and a fixed state ; and 
in this it has a great resemblance to fire and electricity. 


As these may reside in a body without manifesting them- 
selves externally until they are called forth by a suita- 
ble stimulus, the vital power, in like manner, may long 
reside in a fixed state, in an organized body, without in- 
dicating itself in any other way than by supporting and 
preserving itself from dissolution. Of this we have 
some astonishing instances. A grain of corn can retain 
life in a fixed state for years, and an egg several months : 
it neither evaporates nor corrupts ; and the stimulus of 
heat alone can disengage the confined power, and call 
forth the expansive principle of life. Nay, the already 
expanding organic life can in this manner be again 
checked and confined, yet exist some time in that state, 
and preserve the organization intrusted to it, of which 
the polypes and animal plants in particular afford us 
the most remarkable instances. 

4th. As it seems to have a different affinity to differ- 
ent organized bodies, and abound more in some and less 
in others, its union with some is likewise stronger, and 
with others weaker. And it is worthy of remark, that, 
where it abounds in the greatest quantity and perfection, 
it seems there to be more loosely combined. To the 
imperfect, weak-lived polype, for example, it adheres 
with more force than to a more perfect animal in a 
higher degree of existence. For the present inquiry 
this observation is of the utmost importance. 

5th. It gives to every body which it pervades an en-, 
tirely new character, a specific superiority to other parts 
of the corporeal world. In the first ' place, it renders 
them susceptible of impressions as a stimulus, and 
makes them capable of reaction ; and, secondly, it frees 
them from the general physical and chemical laws of 


inanimate nature : so that one may with propriety say, 
by the assistance of the vital power a body is trans- 
ferred from the mechanical and chemical world to a 
new one, the organic or living world. Here the gen- 
eral physical laws of Nature have place only in part, 
and with certain limitations. All impressions in a liv- 
ing body are modified and counteracted in a manner dif- 
ferent from what they are in an inanimate body. In a 
living body, therefore, no process merely mechanical or 
chemical is possible ; and every thing assumes the char- 
acter of life. A blow, or any stimulus, cold and heat, 
act in a living body according to laws altogether pecu- 
liar ; and in every effect thence produced must be consid- 
ered as compounded of the external impression and the 
reaction of the vital power. 

In this lie the grounds of the peculiarity of different 
species, and even of different individuals. We observe 
daily that plants which grow near each other in the 
same soil, and which receive the very same nour- 
ishment, are widely different in their form, sap, and 
properties. This is the case also in the animal king- 
dom ; and hence the common expression, " every one 
has his own peculiar nature." 

6th. The vital power is the principal support of the 
body in which it resides. It not only binds and keeps 
together the whole organization, but it counteracts also, 
very strongly, the destructive influence of the other 
powers of Nature, so far as they depend on chemical 
laws, which it is able to annihilate, or at least to mod- 
ify. Among these, I reckon, in particular, the effects 
of putrefaction, of the atmosphere, and of frost. No 
living being putrefies ; a previous weakening or annihi- 


lation of the vital power is always necessary in order 
to render corruption possible. Even in a fixed and 
inactive state, it is able to keep off corruption. No- 
egg, so long as it contains the vital power ; no grain of 
corn, no silk worm inclosed in its cocoon, no insect ap- 
parently dead, corrupts ; and it is truly astonishing how 
it can preserve bodies which have such a strong ten- 
dency to putrefaction as that of man has,, for sixty,, 
eighty, or a hundred years. By its binding property it 
withstands the power of the atmosphere, the second 
cause of destruction, which, in the end, dissolves the- 
hardest bodies, and makes them fall to pieces. In like 
manner, the dangerous excitation of the particles of fire 
keeps off frost. No living body freezes ; that is to say, 
so long as its vital power is in activity, frost cannot 
destroy it. Amidst the ice mountains of the South and 
North pole, where all Nature appears to be in a state 
of torpor, one sees living creatures, and even men, who 
are not affected by the general congelation.* This 
property of the vital power seems not confined merely 
to its active, but belong also to its fixed state. An 
egg, or a grain of corn, possessed of life, freezes much 
later than one that is dead. The bear passes the whole 
winter half torpid, among the snow; the apparently 
dead swallow and the pupa? of insects continue under 
the ice without being frozen. When the frost increases 

* The galantlms nivalis, snowdrop, pushes itself from the frozen 
earth through the snow, and its flower remains unhurt, notwith- 
standing the severe night frosts. Mr. Hunter caused fish to be 
frozen into water. As long as they lived, the water, though 
congealed everywhere else, remained around them fluid, and 
formed a real hole ; but as soon as they died, that part froze up 


so much as to weaken or oppress the vital power, it can 
then, only, overcome it, and penetrate a living body. 
This phenomenon depends in particular on that prop- 
erty which the vital power possesses, of exciting warmth ; 
as we shall see hereafter. 

7th. A total loss of the vital power is attended with 
a dissolution of the organized structure of the body 
which it before filled. The matter of the body obeys 
the laws and affinities of inanimate chemical nature, to 
which it now belongs; its first principles are divided 
and separated ; and corruption, under the usual circum- 
stances, follows; which can alone convince us that a 
body has been totally deprived of the vital power. But 
it is a great and striking observation that corruption 
itself, which seems to annihilate all life, must be the 
means of calling forth new life again ; and that it is 
properly nothing else than a highly important process 
to disengage in the speediest manner the component 
parts, no longer susceptible of life under that form, and 
to make them fit for new organic combination and life. 
No sooner is a body thus decomposed than its fine par- 
ticles begin to be again animated in a thousand small 
worms, or to display their revival under the figure of 
beautiful grass : the most vivid flowers recommence, in 
this manner, the great circle of organic life ; and, by a 
few changes, become a year after component parts per- 
haps of as perfect a human being as that with which 
they appeared to corrupt. Their apparent death was 
only a transition to a new life ; and the vital power 
leaves a body only that it may unite itself again with 
it in a more perfect manner. 

8th. The vital power may be weakened, and even 


totally destroyed, by certain causes ; and by others can 
be excited, strengthened, and nourished. Among those 
which destroy it may be reckoned in particular cold, the 
great enemy of all life. A moderate degree of cold, 
however, can be so far strengthening, as it concentrates 
the vital power and prevents its consumption : but this 
strengthening is negative, not positive ; and a higher de- 
gree of cold banishes it entirely. In cold, no vital 
expansion can take place ; no egg can be hatched ; no 
grain of corn shoot forth. 

To these also belong certain derangements which 
seem to have effect partly by annihilating the vital 
power, and partly by a destructive alteration of the in- 
ternal organized disposition of the particles. Thus a 
violent electric shock, or lightning, deprives -plants and 
animals of life, instantaneously, without leaving the 
least trace of their having injured the organs ; and thus 
among more perfect beings in particular, may the vital 
power be destroyed, in a moment, by violent agitations 
of the mind, such as sudden fear or joy. 

Lastly, there are certain physical powers which are 
highly capable of weakening and even of annihilating 
it ; and these, therefore, we commonly call poisons : as, 
for example, the smallpox infection, laurel water, the 
essential oil of bitter almonds, etc. 

But there are agents also of a contrary kind, which 
have a friendship for, and an affinity to, the vital power ; 
and which are capable of exciting, invigorating, and, in 
great probability, of affording it a subtle nourishment. 
These, in particular, are, light, heat, and air, or rather 
oxygen, three celestial gifts, which, with great pro- 
priety, may be called the friends and guardian spirits 
of life. 


LIGHT, the first of these, is, without doubt, the most 
intimate friend and relation of life ; and, in this respect, 
has certainly a much more essential effect than is com- 
monly believed. The life of every created being is the 
more perfect the more it enjoys the influence of light. 
Let a plant or an animal be deprived of light, notwith- 
standing every nourishment, care, and cultivation, it will 
first lose its color, then its strength, and at last entirely 
decay. Even man, who passes his life in darkness, be- 
comes pale, relaxed, and heavy, and at length loses the 
whole energy of life ; as is proved by the many melan- 
choly instances of persons shut up in gloomy dungeons. 
Nay, I do not think I say too much when I assert, that 
organized life is possible only under the influence of 
light, and in all probability through it ; for in the bowels 
of the earth, in the deepest caverns, where eternal night 
prevails, nothing is seen but what we call unorganized 
life. There nothing breathes, there nothing feels ; and 
the only productions which one finds are a few kinds of 
mould and stone moss, the first most imperfect degree 
of vegetation. For that reason, this vegetation, for the 
most part, shows itself only on old or rotten wood. The 
expansion of organized life must, therefore, be here ex- 
cited by wood and water, or by that putrefaction which 
generates life, and which in those abysses does not exist. 

The second, no less beneficent friend of the vital 
power, is HEAT, which is alone able to call forth the 
first movements of life. When winter has reduced all 
nature to a deathlike condition, let the genial warmth 
of the spring atmosphere only breathe upon it, and all 
its dormant powers are awakened to activity. The 
nearer we approach the poles, every thing becomes 


deader, and we at length find districts where absolutely 
no plant, insect, or small animal can exist, and where 
only large masses of being, such as whales, bears, and 
the like, can retain that warmth necessary for life. In 
a word, where there is life there is heat, in a greater or 
less degree ; and between both there is a very impor- 
tant and inseparable connection. Warmth gives life, 
and life again excites warmth ; and it seems difficult to 
determine which is the cause, and which the effect. 

Of the extraordinary power which heat has to nour- 
ish and awaken life, the following entirely new and de- 
cisive instance deserves to be mentioned. On the 2nd 
of August, 1790, a carabinier, named Petit, threw him- 
self, entirely naked, into the Rhine, from a window of 
the military hospital at Strasburg. This circumstance 
was observed about three o'clock in the afternoon ; and 
the body remained above half an hour in the water be- 
fore it was drawn out, to all appearance perfectly dead. 
It was placed in a bed thoroughly warmed, with the 
head raised up, the arms stretched out close to it on 
each side, and the legs laid together. No other process 
was employed than the application of warm cloths to 
the stomach and legs. Warm stones, also, wrapped up 
in cloth, were placed in different parts of the bed. In 
the course of seven or eight minutes a small motion was 
observed in the eyelids. A little while after, the under 
jaw, which had been fast locked to the. upper one, be- 
came loose ; the patient foamed at the mouth, and he 
was able to swallow a few spoonfuls of wine. His pulse 
now returned, #nd at the end of an hour he was able to 
speak. Warmth, in cases of apparent death, acts evi- 
dently with as much power as on the first expansion of 


life : it nourishes the smallest sparks of the vital princi- 
ple still remaining; fans them, and gradually rouses 
them into a flame. 

The third important nourisher of life is AIR. We find 
no being that can live entirely without air ; and sud- 
den, sometimes instantaneous, death is to most of them 
the consequence of its being withdrawn. What makes 
its influence highly visible is, that those animals which 
breathe are more abundant in the vital power, and pos- 
sess it in greater perfection, than those which do not 
breathe. Dephlogisticated or empyreal air appears, 
principally, to be that component part of our atmos- 
phere which affords the strongest and best nourishment 
to the vital power ; and in the present age, since the 
wonder-working art of chemistry has taught us to pro- 
duce it pure, people, on inspiring it, have experienced a 
general sensation of strengthening and invigoration. 
The grand principle of this empyreal or vital air is by 
chemists called oxygen ; and this component part is that 
properly which in the air which contains life, and passes 
into the blood by breathing. Water, also, belongs to 
the agents friendly to life, so far as it contains oxygen ; 
and |t certainly promotes life, for without fluidity no ex- 
pansion of life is possible. 

I think I may with justice, therefore, assert, that 
light, heat, and oxygen are the real proper nourishment 
and sustenance .of the vital power. Grosser kinds of 
nourishment, setting aside the quantity of oxygen and 
empyreal matter which they contain, seem to serve 
rather for supporting the organs and rep.airing the con- 
sumption. Were not this the case, one could not ex- 
plain how created beings can maintain life so long with- 


out nourishment. Let us only consider the chicken in 
an egg. It lives without the smallest external support ; 
expands itself, and becomes a perfect animal. A hya- 
cinth, or any other bulbous plant, can, without the least 
nourishment except the evaporation of water ex- 
pand and shoot forth a stem crowned with beautiful 
leaves and flowers. Even among more perfect animals 
we observe phenomena which would otherwise be inex- 
plicable. Dr. George Fordyce, for example, inclosed 
gold fish in vessels filled with well-water ; gave them at 
first fresh water every twenty-four hours, but afterwards 
only every three days ; and yet they lived fifteen months 
without any nourishment, and, what is more wonderful, 
became twice as big. But, as it might have been be- 
lieved that the water contained a multitude of invisible 
nutritive particles, he distilled it ; added air to it again ; 
and, to prevent the introduction of insects, closed up 
the vessels with great care. Notwithstanding all this, 
the fish lived a long time, increased in size, and had ex- 
cretions. How is it possible that man himself could 
endure hunger so long and yet retain life, if the nutri- 
ment of the vital power were necessarily derived from 
the substances by which he is nourished ? A French 
officer, after a tedious and severe illness, was seized 
with a mental disorder, during which he resolved to 
starve himself to death ; and he continued so firm to his 
purpose that, for the space of forty-six days he did not 
take the smallest grain of food. On the fifth day he 
asked only for some distilled water ; and as half a pint 
of anise-seed water was given to him, he used the whole 
of it in three days. His friends, however, having rep- 
resented to him that this quantity was too much, he put 


into each glass of water that he drank no more than 
three drops ; and in this manner his half-pint lasted till 
the thirty -ninth day. He then gave over drinking, and 
for the last eight days took nothing at all. After the 
thirty-sixth day he was obliged to lie in bed ; and it is 
remarkable that this man, extremely clean in other re- 
spects, exhaled during the whole time of his fasting, a 
very offensive smell, in consequence of the interrupted 
renovation of his juices, and the corruption attending 
it ; and that his eyes became weak. All advice proved 
ineffectual, and his friends gave him up as lost, when 
the voice of Nature was suddenly awakened within him 
by an accident. He saw a child with a piece of bread 
and butter enter the apartment where he was. This 
sight excited his appetite so much at once that he begged 
for some soup. A few spoonfuls of rice broth were now 
given him every two hours ; some stronger food was 
gradually added ; and his health, though slowly, was in 
this manner again wholly restored. But it is very sin- 
gular that while he fasted and was weak, his phrensy 
and wild imaginations forsook him, and that he answered 
when addressed by his usual name ; but as soon as he 
had acquired strength by eating, his whole train of in- 
coherent ideas again returned.* 

9th. There is still a cause which tends to weaken and 
diminish the vital power, and which lies in itself, namely, 
the loss it sustains by exerting its strength. By every 
exertion it loses some of its force ; and when these ex- 
ertions are too violent, or continued without intermis- 
sion, the consequence is that it may be completely ex- 
hausted. This is proved by common experience, as we 

* See Hist, de 1'Acade'mie Royale des Sciences. 'An. 1769. 


find that, after great exertion in walking, thinking, etc., 
we become fatigued. It is shown still more clearly by 
the experiments of Galvani, in which, after death, a 
muscle and nerves, still alive, may be irritated by the 
application of metal. If this irritation be often and 
strongly repeated, the power will be sooner exhausted ; 
but if slowly, it will be exhausted later : and even when 
it appears to be totally exhausted, one, by intermitting 
the irritation for some time, can occasion a new accu- 
mulation of it, and produce fresh exertions. Hence 
arises a new means of strengthening, namely, rest, or a 
suspension of exertion, by which indeed the power can 
be accumulated and increased. 

10th. The most immediate functions of the vital 
power are not only to receive impressions, such as irri- 
tation, and to react upon them, but also to change into 
organized nature the component parts which are added 
to the body ; that is, to unite them according to the laws 
of organization, and also to give them that structure and 
form which the end of organization requires. 

llth. The vital power pervades all the parts of an 
organized living body, whether fluids or solids ; but it 
manifests itself in different ways, according to the differ- 
ence of the organs ; in the nerves, by sensibility ; in the 
muscles, by irritability, etc. This it does for some time 
visibly and without interruption, and is what we name 
generation or growth, until the organized body has at- 
tained to its destined degree of perfection. This plas- 
tic, creative power, does not, however, cease to act ; but 
what was before growth, becomes now constant renova- 
tion ; and this incessant regeneration is- one of the most 
important means which support the being. 


These observations on the nature of this wonderful 
power are sufficient. It will now be easier for us to 
speak in a more precise manner on the influence 
which this power has on life ; to explain what life 
properly is ; and to say something decisive concerning 
its duration. 

LIFE, in an organized being, means the free active 
state of the before-mentioned power, and the activity 
and efficiency of the organs inseparably connected with 
it. The vital power, therefore, is only capacity ; life 
itself, action. Every life, consequently, is a continued 
operation of the efficiency of the power and of organic 
exertion. A continual consumption of the power and 
of the organs is necessarily the immediate consequence 
of this process ; and, on that account, an incessant reno- 
vation of both is requisite in order that life may be 
supported. The process of life may then be considered 
as a continued process of consumption ; and its essence 
may be defined an uninterrupted wasting and repara- 
tion of ourselves. Life has been already often com- 
pared to a flame ; and indeed the operation in both is the 
same. Destructive and creative powers are engaged, 
with never-ceasing activity, in a continual struggle 
within us ; and every moment of our existence is a sin- 
gular mixture of annihilation and new creation. As 
long as the vital power retains its freshness and energy, 
the living plastic powers will have the superiority, aj?d 
afford it protection in this contest : the body will also 
increase and approach nearer to perfection. By 
little and little they will balance each other, and, 
the consumption becoming equal to the renovation, the 
body will at length decrease. At last, the vital power 


being lessened, and the organs worn out, the consump- 
tion will begin to exceed the renovation ; and decay, 
degradation, and, in the end, a total dissolution will un- 
avoidably follow. This is universally the case. Every 
created being passes through three periods: that of 
its growth, that of its being stationary, and that of its 

The duration of life, in general, depends on the fol- 
lowing points : 

1. On the quantity of the vital power which resides 
in the being. A greater supply of the vital power will 
naturally last much longer, and be later consumed, than 
a smaller. Now we know, from what has been before 
said, that the vital power has a greater affinity to some 
bodies, and to others a less ; that it abounds much more 
in some than in others ; and that many external causes 
tend to weaken it, and many to nourish it. This, there- 
fore, gives us the first and most important ground of the 
difference in the duration of life. 

2. But, besides the vital power, the organs also are 
consumed and wasted by living ; and, consequently, a 
total consumption must take place later in a body the 
organs of which are strong, than in one of a delicate 
structure more liable to dissolution. Besides, the ope- 
ration of life itself requires the continual agency of cer- 
tain organs, which we therefore call the vital organs. 
If these be diseased, or unfit for use, life cannot continue. 
A certain firmness of organization, and a proper con- 
dition of the vital organs, form the second ground on 
which the duration of life depends. 

3. The process of consumption may be carried on 
more slowly, or more rapidly ; and, consequently, the 


duration of it, or what we call life, even when the pow- 
ers and organs are perfectly alike, will be longer or 
shorter in proportion to the quickness or slowness of the 
operation; just as a candle lighted at both ends at the 
same time burns twice as fast as one lighted in the 
usual manner, or as a light in oxygen gas is consumed 
ten times faster than one of the same kind in common 
air, because by that medium the process of consumption 
is increased and accelerated in a tenfold proportion. 
This affords the third ground of difference in the dura- 
tion of life. 

4. As renovation of what is lost and continual regen- 
eration are the principal means of counteracting the 
consumption, those bodies which internally and exter- 
nally have the best means of regenerating themselves 
with most ease, and in the greatest perfection, will natu- 
rally be of longer duration than those which are desti- 
tute of that advantage. 

In short, the duration of life in a being will be pro- 
portioned to the innate quantity of vital power, the 
greater or less firmness of its organs, the speedier or 
slower consumption, and perfect or imperfect restoration. 
All ideas on the prolongation of life, as well as all the 
means which have been or may be proposed on that 
subject, can be brought under these- four classes, and be 
examined upon these principles. 

From these, several important deductions may be 
made, and several obscure questions may be answered, 
of which I shall only mention a few. 

Is the extent of life determined or not ? This question 
has oft given rise to disputes in which divines and phi- 


losophers have been divided, and which have several 
times brought the medical art into great difficulties. On 
the above principles, however, it may be easily resolved. 
Each raqe of beings, as well as each individual, has its 
term of life as certainly fixed as it has its defined size, 
and its proper quantity of vital power, strength of 
organs, and means of consumption or regeneration ; for 
the duration of life is a consequence of that consump- 
tion, and can continue no longer than power and organs 
are able to support it. But this consumption may be 
hastened or retarded : favorable or unfavorable, destruc- 
tive or beneficial circumstances may have an influence 
upon it ; and it thence follows that, notwithstanding the 
before-mentioned natural determination, the limits of it 
may be altered. 

A general answer may now be given also to the fcl- 
lowing question : Is it possible to prolong life ? Un- 
doubtedly it is ; but not by magical cures or gold tinc- 
tures ; nor can we hope to increase the quantity and 
efficacy of the vital power which has been dispensed to 
us, or to alter the whole determination of Nature. 
Whatever is done must be effected by proper attention 
to the above four points, on which the duration of life 
properly depends ; by strengthening the vital power 
and the organs ; by retarding consumption, and by pro- 
moting or facilitating renovation or regeneration. The 
more food, clothing, manner of living, climate, and even 
artificial means are favorable to these requisites, the 
more influence they will have in the prolongation of 
life ; the more they counteract these, the more will they 
shorten the duration of existence. 

What I call retardation of vital consumption, as being, 


in my opinion, the most important means of prolonging 
life, deserves here, in a particular manner, to be con- 
sidered. If we suppose that each body is possessed of 
a certain quantity of vital power, and certain organs 
which make as it were our stock of life, and that life 
consists in a consumption of them, it must be allowed 
that this stock may be naturally consumed by a stronger 
exertion of the organs, and by the speedier wasting 
which is connected with it. He who in a day consumes 
twice as much of the vital power as another, will ex- 
haust his stock sooner ; and organs used with double 
force will in half the time be worn out and become 
useless. The energy of life, therefore, will be in an in- 
verse ratio with its duration ; or the more intensively a 
being lives, the more will its life lose in extension. The 
expression, fast living, which, as well as the thing itself, 
is at present so common, is not then altogether improper. 
One may certainly make the process of vital consump- 
tion, whether it consists in labor or enjoyment, more or 
less rapid, and thus live either fast or slowly. In fu- 
ture I shall distinguish the one by the expression inten- 
sive life, and the other by that of extensive life. This 
truth is confirmed, not only among men, but also through- 
out all nature. The less intensive the life of a being is, 
the longer will be its duration. If the intensive life of 
a plant be increased by heat, manure, and artificial 
means, it will expand itself to perfection more rapidly, 
but it will also soon decay. Even a being which natu- 
rally possesses an abundant stock of vital power will, 
when its life is intensively active, be of shorter duration 
than another less abundant in vital power, but which 
has by nature a life less intensive. Thus it is certain, 


for example, that the higher classes of animals have the 
vital power in far greater quantity and perfection than 
vegetables ; yet a tree lives a hundred times as long as 
the spirited horse, because the life of the tree is inten- 
sively weaker. In this manner, weakening circum- 
stances, when they only lessen the intensive activity of 
life, may be the means of prolonging it ; and, on the 
other hand, influences which strengthen and excite life, 
when they increase the internal activity too much, may 
be prejudicial to its duration. Hence it is evident how 
very sound health may shorten the duration of life, and 
a certain kind of weakness be the best means of pro- 
longing it ; and that the diet and means used for length- 
ening life, cannot be altogether those which are com- 
monly called corroborative. In this respect, Nature 
herself gives us the best lesson, as she has connected 
with the existence of every more perfect being, a cer- 
tain regulation which is able to check the stream of its 
vital consumption, and thereby prevent too rapid 
wasting. I here allude to sleep, a condition which 
takes place in every animal of a perfect kind : a dispo- 
sition of the utmost wisdom, which, in directing and 
retarding the vital consumption, acts in the same man- 
ner as the pendulum of a clock. The time of sleep 
is nothing else than a suspension of intensive life, or an 
apparent loss of it ; but even in this suspension, this 
interruption of its activity, lies one of the greatest 
means of preserving it. A twelve or sixteen hours' 
uninterrupted continuation of intensive life, causes such 
an impetuous stream of consumption as produces a more 
violent pulse, a kind of general fever, the so-called daily 
evening fever. Sleep then comes to the relief of the 


body ; reduces it to a more passive condition ; and after 
a seven or eight hours' pause of this kind, the destruc- 
tive stream of vital consumption is so much checked ; 
what has been lost is so fully renewed, that pulsation 
and all its other movements are again performed slowly 
and regularly, and every thing proceeds with a peace- 
ful course as before.* Nothing, therefore, is able to 
waste and destroy us so speedily as long continued 
want of sleep. Trees even, those Nestors of the vege- 
table kingdom, without the annual sleep of winter, 
would not be able to preserve their lives so long.f 

* Old people, therefore, sleep less, because their intensive life, 
or vital consumption, is weaker, and requires less restoration. 

t In many plants we even find something which may with 
great propriety be compared to the daily sleep of man. Their 
leaves every evening are contracted, or droop ; their flowers shut 
themselves up, and their whole external appearance displays a 
state of rest and repose. Some have ascribed this to the coolness 
and moisture of the evening ; but the same thing takes place also 
in the greenhouse. Others have considered it as a consequence 
of darkness ; but many shut themselves up in summer at six 
o'clock in the afternoon. Nay, the tragopogon luteiim shuts itself 
up so early as nine in the morning ; and this plant, therefore, 
gives us reason to compare it to certain night birds and beasts of 
the animal world, which are active only during the night, and 
sleep in the daytime. Every hour of the day, even, has some 
plant which then shuts itself up, and on this is founded what is 
called a, plant-dial. 


Duration of the life of plants ; diversity of it. Annual, biennial, 
perennial. Experiments respecting circumstances by which this 
is determined; result of them. Application of the fundamental 
principles of the duration of life. Great influence of attention and 
culture on the duration of the life of plants. 

IN order to prove and confirm what has been before 
said, let me now be permitted to take a view of all the 
classes of the organized world, and endeavor to estab- 
lish on solid principles what I have asserted. This will 
give us an opportunity of becoming acquainted with the 
most important collateral circumstances which have an 
influence in prolonging or shortening life. How infi- 
nitely various is the duration of the different organized 
beings ! Between the mould, which lives only a couple 
of hours, and the cedar, which can attain to the age of a 
thousand years, what a difference ; how numberless the 
intermediate degrees ; what a variety of life ! The 
grounds, however, of this longer or shorter duration 
must lie in the structure of each being. This is an im- 
portant and interesting circumstance, but at the same 
time of the utmost extent. I must, therefore, content 
myself with deducing from it the principal data, and 
exhibiting them in our present point of view. 

In this respect, plants, that immense world of crea- 
tion, that first degree of organized beings which nourish 
themselves by internal appropriation, form an indi- 


vicinal and propagate their race, first present them- 
selves to our view. What infinite variety of shape, 
organization, size, and duration ! According to the latest 
discoveries and calculations, they amount to forty thou- 
sand genera and species at least ! 

They may all, however, be reduced, according to their 
duration of life, into three principal classes : annual, or 
properly only semi-annual, which grow up in spring, and 
die in autumn ; biennial, which die at the end of the 
second year; and, lastly, perennial, the duration of 
which extends from four to a thousand years. 

All plants of a soft watery constitution, and which 
have fine tender organs, have a short life, and last only 
one or at most two years: those alone which have 
stronger organs and tougher juices exist longer; but 
wood is absolutely necessary in order to attain to the 
highest degree of vegetable existence. 

Even among those which live only one or two years 
a remarkable difference may be observed. Those which 
are of a cold insipid nature, and destitute of smell, live, 
under like circumstances, not so long as the strong- 
scented, balsamic plants, which contain more essential 
oil and spirits. Lettuce, wheat, oats, barley, and all 
kinds of corn, live no more than 'a year ; but, on the 
other hand, thyme, mint, hyssop, balm, wormwood, mar- 
joram, sage, etc., can live two years, and even longer. 

Shrubs and small trees can live sixty years, and some 
even twice that number. The vine attains to sixty or 
a hundred years, and continues fruitful at the greatest 
age. This is the case also with rosemary. The acan- 
thus and ivy, however, can exceed the age of a hundred. 
Among many, such, for example, as the different kinds 


of rubus,* it is difficult to determine the age, as the 
branches creep along the ground, and always form new 
plants, so that it is almost impossible to distinguish the 
new from the old ; and by these means they make their 
existence as it were perennial. 

Those which attain to the highest age are the great- 
est, strongest, and hardest trees ; such as the oak, the 
lime-tree, the beech, the chestnut, the elm, the plane- 
tree, the cedar, the olive, the palm, the mulberry-tree, 
and the baobab.f We may with certainty affirm, that 
some of the cedars of Lebanon, the celebrated chestnut- 
tree di centi cavalli in Sicily, and several of the sacred 
oaks under which the ancient Germans performed their 
religious ceremonies, may have attained to the age of a 
thousand years and more. These are the most venera- 
ble, the only now existing testimonies of the ancient 
world, and inspire us with reverence and awe when the 
rustling wind plays through their silvery locks, which 
once served to overshade the Druids and our wild an- 
cestors clothed in their bearskins. 

All trees of a rapid growth, such as the fir, the birch, 
the horse-chestnut, and the like, yield always less solid 
and durable wood, and the period of their existence is 
shorter. The oak, which is the slowest in growing of 

* Common bramble, blackberry, raspberry. 

t This newly discovered tree (Adansonia digitata) seems to be 
one of those which live to the greatest age. Its trunk acquires 
the thickness of twenty-five feet in diameter ; and Adanson, in 
the middle of the present century, found trees only six feet in di- 
ameter, which had cut on them the names of seafaring people 
who had visited them in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, yet 
these incisions had become very little extended. 


all, has the hardest wood, and its life is of the longest 

Smaller vegetables have, in general, a shorter life 
than those which are large, tall, and spreading. 

Those trees which have the hardest and most durable 
wood are, however, not always those which live longest. 
The beech, for example, the cypress, the juniper, the 
walnut, and the pear-tree, do not live so long as the 
lime-tree, though its wood be softer. 

Those which produce juicy, tender, and delicate fruit, 
are, in general, shorter-lived than those which are bar- 
ren, or which bear fruit entirely useless. And among 
the former, those which bear nuts or acorns become 
older than those which produce berries and fruit with 

Even these short-lived trees, the apple, the pear, the 
apricot, the peach, the cherry, etc., can, under very fa- 
vorable circumstances, prolong their life to sixty years ; 
especially when they are freed from the moss which 
grows upon them. 

We may establish it as a general rule, that those trees 
which are long in producing leaves and fruit, and which 
also do not soon lose them, become older than those in 
which both these changes take place speedily. Those, 
likewise, which are cultivate'd, have, in general, a shorter 
existence than those which grow wild ; and those which 
produce sour, harsh fruit, live longer than those which 
produce sweet. 

It is highly worthy of remark, that when the earth is 
dug up every year around the roots of a tree, it becomes 
more vigorous and fruitful ; but the duration of its life 


is shortened. On the other hand, if this be done only 
every five or ten years, it will live the longer. In the 
like manner, frequent watering and manuring promotes 
fruitfulness, but it injures the duration of life. 

One, also, by frequently lopping off the branches and 
buds, may contribute very much to the duration of the 
life of a shrub ; so that small, shortlived plants, such as 
lavender, hyssop, and the like, if annually pruned, may 
prolong their life to the age of forty years. 

It is also to be remarked, that when one turns up the 
earth, which has remained long untouched and un- 
changed, around the roots of old trees, and makes it 
softer and looser, they will produce fresher and more 
vigorous leaves, and become, as it were, again young. 

When we consider with attention these observations, 
derived from experience, it is perfectly evident how much 
they confirm the above established principles of life and 
vital duration, and that they coincide perfectly with 
these ideas. 

Our first grand principle was : the greater the quantity 
of vital power, and the solidity of the organs, the longer 
will be the duration of life ; and we now find in Nature 
that the greatest, the most perfect, and the best-formed 
productions, in which, also, we must allow the greatest 
abundance of the vital power, and those which have the 
strongest and most durable organs, are precisely those 
which enjoy the longest life ; as, for example, the oak 
and the cedar. 

The bulk of the corporeal mass evidently appears here 
to contribute to the duration of life, and on the three fol- 
lowing grounds : 



I. Bulk shows a greater provision of the vital or plas- 
tic power. 

II. Bulk gives more vital capacity, more surface, 
more external access. 

III. The greater mass a body has, the more time is 
required before it can be wasted by its external and in- 
ternal consumptive and destructive powers. 

We, however, find that a plant may have very strong 
and durable organs, and yet not live so long as one the 
organs of which are of less solidity. Of this we have an 
instance in the lime-tree, which lives much longer than 
the beech or the cypress. 

This now leads to a law of the utmost importance for 
organized life and our future research ; which is, that, 
in the organic world, a certain degree only of solidity 
promotes the duration of life, and that too high a degree 
of tenacity shortens it. In general, however, and among 
unorganized beings, it is undoubtedly certain, that the 
more solid a body is, the greater will be its duration ; 
but in organized beings, where the" duration of existence 
consists in continual activity of the organs and circula- 
tion of the juices, this observation is limited, and too 
great a degree of solidity in the organs, and toughness 
in the juices, makes them sooner immovable and unfit 
for discharging their functions, produces obstructions, 
and brings on premature old age, and even death. 

It is not, however, merely on the quantity of the 
power and the organs that the vital power depends. 
We have already seen that a great deal, in particular, 
depends on the speedier or slower consumption, and on 


perfect or more imperfect restoration. Is this, there- 
fore, confirmed in the vegetable kingdom ? 

It is, in the fullest manner ; and we here find this 
general law : the more intensive life a plant has, the 
stronger and speedier is its internal consumption, the 
sooner it decays, and the shorter is its duration : on the 
other hand, the more capacity a plant has, either inter- 
nally or externally, to, regenerate itself, the longer it 
will preserve its existence. 

I shall now proceed to treat, in the first place, on the 
law of consumption. Plants in general have a very 
weak intensive life, which consists only in the functions 
of growth, propagation, and receiving nourishment. 
They are subject to no arbitrary changing of place, no 
regular circulation, no muscular or nervous motion. 
The function of generation is, beyond dispute, the high- 
est degree of their internal consumption, the utmost 
stretch of their intensive life. But how speedily is it 
followed by decomposition and annihilation! Nature 
appears here to make, as it were, the greatest exertion 
of her plastic power, and to show the ne plus ultra of the 
highest finishing and of bringing to perfection. 

What tenderness and delicacy in the structure of the 
flower ; what elegance and splendor of colors astonish 
us often in the most inconsiderable plant, to which we 
never could have ascribed such expansion. These are, 
as it were, the dress of ceremony, with which the plant 
celebrates its greatest festival, but with which it also 
often exhausts its whole stock of vital power, either for 
ever, or at least for a long time. 

All plants, without exception, lose, immediately after 
this catastrophe, the vigor of vegetation ; and begin to 


be stationary, which is the commencement of their dis- 
solution. In all annual plants complete death follows ; 
among the larger plants and trees, a temporal death at 
least, or a torpor of half a year, until, by the great 
strength of their regenerating power, they are again put 
in a condition to shoot forth new leaves and flowers. 

On the same principles it may be explained, how all 
plants which acquire early the power of generation die 
also soonest ; and it is an invariable law for the dura- 
tion of life in the vegetable kingdom, that the earlier 
and speedier a plant comes to flower, the shorter time 
will its life continue ; but the later it flowers, its exist- 
ence will be of the longer duration. All those which 
flower immediately, the first year, die also the same 
year; and those which flower for the first time the 
second year, die also the second. Those trees only, and 
woody shrubs, which first begin to generate in the sixth, 
ninth, or twelfth year, become old ; and among these, 
those genera which arrive latest at the period of propa- 
gation become likewise the oldest. A highly important 
observation, which, in part, fully confirms my ideas of 
consumption, and gives an instructive hint in regard to 
our future research. 

An answer may now be given to that important ques- 
tion, What influence has cultivation on the longer or 
shorter duration of the life of plants ? 

Culture and art, upon the whole, shorten life ; and it 
may be admitted as a fundamental principle, that in gen- 
eral all wild plants, left to themselves, live longer than 
those which are cultivated. Every kind of culture, how- 
ever, does not shorten life ; for, by careful attention, a 
plant which lives only one or two years in the open air, 


may be preserved much longer : and this is a very re- 
markable proof, that, even in the vegetable kingdom, it 
is possible to prolong life by a certain kind of treatment. 
But the question now is, In what consists the difference 
of that culture which prolongs life, and that which short- 
ens it ? This may be of importance to us in the follow- 
ing research, and may be referred to our first fundamen- 
tal principle. The more cultivation strengthens intensive 
life and internal consumption, and at the same time 
makes the organization more delicate, the more is it pre- 
judicial to the duration of life. This we observe to be 
the case in all hothouse plants, which, by warmth, ma- 
nure, and other arts, are forced to a continual internal 
activity ; so that they produce earlier, oftener, and more 
exquisite fruit than is natural for them. The case is 
the same, when, without forcing, by external causes, a 
higher degree of perfection and delicacy than belonged 
to its nature is communicated to the internal organiza- 
tion of a plant, merely by certain operations and arts, 
such, for example, as ingrafting, propping, and the art 
used in regard to full flowers. This kind of culture 
shortens the duration also. 

Cultivation, on the other hand, may be the greatest 
means of prolonging life, if it do not strengthen the in- 
tensive life of a plant, or if it retard and moderate in 
any manner its internal consumption ; if it lessen the 
too great natural toughness or hardness of the organs or 
matter to such a degree that they continue longer plia- 
ble and proper for their functions ; and if it keep off 
destructive influences, and supply it with better means 
of regeneration. Thus, by the help of culture, a being 


may attain to a greater extent of life than it could have 
acquired according to its natural state and destination. 

The duration of the life of plants may be prolonged, 
therefore, in the three following ways : 

1st. If, by often pruning the branches, we guard 
against too rapid consumption. By these means we de- 
prive the plant of a part of those organs by which it 
would exhaust too speedily its vital power, and we con- 
centrate the power as it were within it. 

2nd. If we thereby check, or at least retard its flower- 
ing, and prevent a waste of the power of generation. 
This, we know, is the highest degree of vital consump- 
tion among plants ; and we thus doubly contribute to 
the prolongation of life first, by preventing this power 
from being exhausted; and, secondly, by obliging it to 
return back and to act as a means of support or nourish- 

3rd. If we keep off the destructive influence of frost, 
the want of nourishment, and an irregular atmosphere, 
and preserve it by art, in an uniform, moderate, mean 
condition. Though we hereby somewhat increase the 
intensive life, we nevertheless create a richer source of 

Lastly, the fourth grand point on which the duration 
of every being, and also of a plant, depends, is its greater 
or less capacity to restore itself and to renew its parts. 

In this respect, the vegetable world may be divided 
into two grand classes. The first do not possess this 
capacity; and these are the annual plants, or those 
which live only a year, and which die immediately aft/er 
they have performed the function of generation. 


The second class, on the other hand, which possess 
this great faculty of regenerating themselves annually ; 
of producing new leaves, branches, and flowers, can at- 
tain to the astonishing age of a thousand years and 
upwards. Such plants may be considered as organized 
masses of earth, from which an immense number of 
plants, but perfectly analogous to each mass, spring out 
every year. And in this regulation the wisdom of Na- 
ture appears great and divine. 

When we reflect that, as experience teaches us, a 
period of eight or ten years is required in order to pro- 
duce that degree of perfection in the organs and in the 
purification of the juices necessary in a tree before it can 
bring forth flowers and fruit, if it were subjected to the 
same laws of decay as other vegetable productions, and 
if a tree died immediately after it had generated, ho^v 
ill-rewarded would the culture of it be ; and how little 
proportion would the expense of preparation and time 
bear to the result ! In such a case, fruit indeed would 
be uncommon. 

To guard against this, Nature has wisely established, 
that the first plant acquires gradually such a consistence 
and solidity that, at last the place of the earth is sup- 
plied by the trunk, from which an abundance of new 
plants spring out every year under the form of buds and 

By this a double advantage is obtained. First, be- 
cause these plants spring from a mass of earth already 
organized, they immediately receive juices assimilated 
and prepared, and can therefore employ them in the 
production of flowers and fruit, which with sap derived 
immediately from the earth would be impossible. 


Secondly, these delicate plants, which in reality we 
may consider as so many annuals, die again after the 
process of fructification is completed, and yet the vege- 
table itself, or the stem, continues perennial. Nature, 
therefore, remains here true to her fundamental law, 
that the function of generation exhausts the vital power 
of single individuals, and yet the whole is perennial. 

In a word, the result of all these observations is, that 
the great age of a plant depends on the following 
points : 

I. It must grow slowly. 

II. It must propagate itself slowly, and late. 

III. It must have a certain degree of solidity and 
duration in its organs, a sufficiency of wood, and the sap 
must not be too watery. 

IV. It must be large, and have considerable exten- 

V. It must rise into the atmosphere. 

By the contrary of all these the duration of life is 


Duration of life in the animal world. Observations on plant-animals. 
Worms. Insects. Metamorphosis an important means of prolong- 
ing life. Amphibia. Fish. Birds. Animals which suckle. Re- 
sult. Influence of maturity and growth on the duration of life. 
Perfection or imperfection of organization. Rapid or slow vital 
consumption. Restoration. 

THE animal kingdom, or second grand class of the 
more perfect part of the organized world, is immensely 
rich in being, and in variety and diversity of duration. 
Between the elephant, which attains to the age of a hun- 
dred years, and the ephemeron, that small perishable 
insect, which exists scarcely a day, and which in the 
twentieth hour of its life is an experienced veteran 
among its numerous posterity, there are innumerable 
intermediate degrees of vital capacity and duration ; but 
amidst this vast abundance I shall content myself with 
collecting only such data as may serve to illustrate our 
principal question, On what does the duration of life de- 

To begin with worms, the most imperfect class of all, 
which approach very near to plants ; these, on account 
of their tender, soft nature, can be injured and destroyed 
with remarkable ease ; but, like plants, they have the 
best support in their extraordinary power of reproduc- 
tion, by which they can renew whole parts. Nay, when 


divided into two or three pieces they can still live, and 
it is consequently difficult to determine their duration. 

In this class 'there are some animals which almost 
appear to be indestructible, and with which Fontana 
and Gotze made so many important experiments. The 
former caused wheel-insects and hair-worms to be dried 
in the hot scorching sun, and to be parched in an oven ; 
and at the end of half a year he was able to revive 
these dried animals by pouring over them a little luke- 
warm water. 

These experiments confirm our position that the more 
imperfect the organization, the stronger is the life. The 
case here is the same as in the seeds of plants ; and one 
may say that these first points of the animal creation 
are, in a certain measure, only the first shoots or seeds 
for the more perfect animal world. 

Among those insects which have more of the animal, 
and a more finished organization, the power pf repro- 
duction cannot perform such wonders. But Nature 
here has fallen upon another wise establishment, which 
evidently prolongs their existence ; I mean that of meta- 
morphosis or transformation. The insect exists, per- 
haps two, three, or four years, as a larva or worm ; it 
then becomes a pupa or nymph, and exists again in that 
deathlike state a considerable time, at the end of which 
it appears a completely finished being. It now first has 
eyes, a winged, often an elegant body ; and what stamps 
it principally with the mark of perfection, it is now first 
rendered fit for generation. This state, which may be 
called the time of its bloom, is, however, the shortest ; 
it soon dies ; for it has attained to the end of its desti- 


I cannot here omit to remark, how much these phe- 
nomena coincide with the principles I laid down as the 
grounds on which the duration of life depends. In its 
first state as a worm, how imperfect its existence, and 
how little its motion ! It is impossible for it to gene- 
rate, and its whole faculties seem to consist in those of 
eating and digesting ; for some caterpillars have so 
monstrous an appetite, that, in the course of twenty- 
four hours, they devour more than three times the 
weight of their bodies. Their self-consumption, then, 
must be exceedingly small, and their restoration prodi- 
gious. It need excite no surprise, therefore, that, in 
this condition, notwithstanding their diminutive size and 
imperfection, they can live so long. The case is the 
same in regard to their intermediate state as a chrysa- 
lis, when the animal lives without nourishment, and it 
consumed neither externally nor internally. But in the 
last period of its existence, of its completely formed state 
as a winged ethereal being, its whole life seems to consist 
in continual motion and removal from one place to 
another; yet, though its self-consumption is incessant, 
we cannot think of nourishment or restoration, for many 
butterflies in this condition have no mouth. With such 
a refinement of organization, such a disproportion be- 
tween what is added and what is taken away, no dura- 
tion is possible ; and it is confirmed by experience that 
the animal soon dies. Here, therefore, the same being 
exhibits to us, in a very evident manner, a picture of 
the most perfect as well as most imperfect life, and of 
the longer or shorter duration connected with them. 

Amphibia, those cold transition beings, can prolong 


their existence to an extraordinary length ; an advan- 
tage for which they are principally indebted to the tena- 
city of their life, that is, to the very intimate and diffi- 
cult to be dissolved connection of the vital power with 
the material part, and the weakness of their intensive 

Of the tenacity of life we have instances truly aston- 
ishing. Tortoises have been seen to live a considerable 
time without the head ; and frogs, when their hearts 
were torn out, have still continued to leap about. A 
tortoise has existed six whole weeks without any food ; 
and this sufficiently shows how small its intensive life 
is, and how little need it has of restoration. Nay, it is 
proved that toads have been found alive inclosed in 
stones and blocks of marble-* Whether they were 
shut up there in the egg, or as perfect beings, both 
cases are equally astonishing ; for what a number of 
years must have been necessary for the marble to gene- 
rate, and before it could acquire its solidity ! 

This shows how much influence the power of regene- 
ration has in prolonging life. A great many dangers 

* In the year 1733, a toad was found in Sweden, seven ells 
deep, in a quarry, in the middle of a block of the hardest stone, 
to which people were obliged to force their way, with much labor, 
by means of chisels and the hammer. It was still alive, but ex- 
ceedingly weak. Its skin was shrivelled, and covered here and 
therewith a stony crust. See Transactions of the Swedish Academy, 
vol. iii. p. 285. It is most probable that the toad, when very 
young, had got into a small cleft of the stone, where it nourished 
itself with moisture and the insects which crept into it ; that the 
cleft was at length closed up by sparry matter, and that the ani- 
mal, by the time it grew. up, was thus completely incrusted. - 


and causes of death are thereby rendered harmless ; 
and whole parts which have been lost are again renewed. 
To this belongs that phenomenon of the skin which we 
find among most animals of this class. Snakes, frogs, 
lizards, etc., cast their skin every year ; and it appears 
that this method of becoming again young, contributes 
very much to their support and duration. Something 
of the like kind seems to prevail throughout the whole 
animal world : birds change their feathers as well as 
their bills, which is called moulting ; insects transform 
themselves, and most quadrupeds change their hair and 
their claws. 

The tortoise and crocodile attain to the highest age, 
as far as we have yet been able to learn from ob- 

The tortoise, an indolent, slow in all its motions, and 
phlegmatic animal, and which is so long in growing 
that in twenty years one can scarcely observe an in- 
crease of a few inches, lives to the age of a hundred 
years and more. 

The crocodile, a large, strong, vigorous animal, in- 
closed in a hard coat of mail, incredibly voracious, and 
endowed with extraordinary powers of digestion, lives 
also very long ; and, according to the affirmation of 
several travellers, is the only animal which grows as 
long as it exists. 

It is astonishing what instances of great age may be 
found among fishes, the cold-blooded inhabitants of the 
waters. We know from the ancient Roman history, 
that in the imperial fishponds there were several lam- 
preys (murcence) which had attained to their sixtieth 
year ; and which had, at length, become so well ac 


quainted and familiar with man that Crassus orator 
unam ex illis defleverit* 

The pike, a dry, exceedingly voracious animal, and 
carp also, according to undeniable testimony, prolong 
their life to a hundred and fifty years. The salmon 
grows rapidly, *and dies soon. On the other hand, the 
perch, the growth of which is slower, preserves its ex- 
istence longer. 

It appears here worthy of being remarked, that nat- 
ural death occurs more rarely among fishes than in any 
other part of the animal kingdom. The law of the 
transition of one into another, according to the right of 
the strongest, prevails here far more generally. One 
devours another, the stronger the weaker; and one may 
assert that death exists less in the water, as the dying 
pass immediately into the substance of another living 
being, and consequently the intermediate state of death 
is less common than on land. Putrefaction takes place 
in the stomach of the stronger. This regulation is a 
proof of exalted and divine wisdom. If the innume- 
rable millions of the inhabitants of the waters which die 
daily, remained only one day unentombed, or, what is 
the same thing, not devoured, they would speedily dif- 
fuse abroad the most dreadful pestilential evaporation* 
In water, where vegetation, that great means of correct- 
ing animal putrefaction, exists in less extent, every 
cause of corruption must be guarded against ; and on 
this account continual life must prevail. 

Among birds, also, there are several species which 
live a long time ; and to this, without doubt, the follow- 
ing circumstances contribute : 

* That Crassus the orator shed tears for one of them when it 


Irst. Birds are remarkably well clothed ; for no cov- 
ering can be more perfect or better calculated to pre- 
serve warmth than feathers. 

2nd. They have, every year, a kind of reproduction, 
or renovation, which is called moulting. During that 
period, the bird appears to be somewhat sick ; casts, at 
length, its old feathers, and acquires new ones. Many 
cast their bills also ; an important part of renovation, 
as they are thereby put in a condition to feed them- 
selves much better. 

3rd. Birds enjoy the purest air, and in the greatest 

4th. They are exposed to much motion ; but their 
motion is the most healthful of all, as it consists of 
both active and passive, that is to say, they are sus- 
pended, and exert themselves only in moving forwards. 

The golden eagle, a large strong animal with solid 
vessels, attains to a very great age. There have been 
instances of many living in menageries above a hundred 

The same is the case with the vulture and falcon, 
both carnivorous animals. A gentleman at London, a 
few years ago, received from the Cape of Good Hope 
one that had been caught with a golden collar, on which 
was inscribed in English, " His Majesty K. James of 
England, An. 1610." It had, therefore, been at liberty 
one hundred and eighty-two years from the time of its 
escape. How old was it when it escaped ? It was of 
the largest species of these birds, and possessed still no 
little strength and spirit ; but it was remarked that its 
eyes were blind and dim, and that the feathers of its 
neck had become white. 


The crow, a carnivorous bird with hard black flesh, 
can extend its life also to a hundred years ; as can 
likewise the swan, an animal exceedingly well feath- 
ered, which feeds upon fish, and is fond of running 

The parrot, in this respect, distinguishes itself in a 
particular manner. One has had instances of its liv- 
ing sixty years a prisoner with man ; and how old 
may it not have been when it was caught ? It is an 
animal which eats and' digests almost all kinds of food, 
which changes its bill, and which has hard, dark-colored 

The peacock lives to the twentieth year. On the 
other hand, the cock, a hot, quarrelsome animal, does 
not exist nearly so long. Of a still shorter life is the 
sparrow. Small birds also live in general shorter. The 
blackbird and goldfinch live, at most, only to the twen- 
tieth year. 

If we now turn our view towards the most perfect 
animals, the mammalia, those which approach nearest to 
man, we shall find amongst these also a very striking 
difference of age. 

That which attains to the greatest is perhaps the 
elephant ; which, by its size, slow growth (for it grows 
to the thirtieth year), exceedingly hard skin and teeth, 
has the justest claim to longevity. 

The age of the lion cannot be accurately determined; 
but we have reason to think that it is of considera- 
ble extent ; because some have been found without any 

The bear, though a great sleeper, and remarkably 
phlegmatic when awake, has, however, no great dura- 


tion of existence. A poor comfort for those who im- 
agine that they have found in indolence the secret for 
prolonging life. 

The camel, on the other hand, a meagre, dry, active, 
exceedingly hardy animal, becomes old. It generally 
attains to the age of fifty, and sometimes of a hundred 

The horse does not live more than about forty years^ 
lie is a large, strong animal, but not well covered with 
hair ; he is therefore of greater sensibility. He may, 
however, ascribe his short life, in some measure, to 
the severity of man ; for we do not yet know, by ex- 
perience, how long he can live in a state of nature. 
The life of the ass has about the same duration. The 
mule, a production of both, is stronger lived, and be- 
comes older. 

What has been said respecting the great age of the 
stag is a fable. It lives thirty years, and perhaps a lit- 
tle over. 

The bull, large and strong as he is, lives only a short 
period about fifteen years, or at most twenty. Most 
of the smaller animals, such as sheep, goats, the fox, the 
hare, etc., live no more than seven or ten years ; except 
dogs and swine, which can reach the age of fifteen or 

From this variety of observations the following result 
may be drawn : 

The animal world have far more external and inter- 
nal movement, a more perfect and a more compounded 
intensive life, and, without doubt, more self-consumption 
than the vegetable. Besides, the organs of this king- 


dom are much tenderer, more complex, and more highly 
finished. Animals, therefore, must have a shorter life 
than plants. But for this reason they possess a greater 
abundance of the vital power ; have more points of con- 
tact with the whole of Nature that surrounds them, and 
consequently more accession and restoration from with- 
out. It must nevertheless be difficult, in this class, to 
attain to a remarkably great age ; but a short life, also, 
will occur very rarely. And this is what we find from 
observation ; a mean age of between five and forty 
years is the most common. 

The sooner an animal is formed, the more rapidly it 
arrives at perfection ; but the sooner it will decline and 
lose its existence. This seems to be one of the most 
general laws of Nature, and is confirmed throughout all 
classes. Only one must not confound expansion with 
growth, and reckon by the latter ; for there are animals 
which grow as long as they live, and to which growth 
forms part of their nourishment : but this law must be 
referred, in particular, to the two following periods : 

1. To the time of the first expansion in the egg, 
either in or out of the body. 

2. To the period of maturity, which one may consider 
as the utmost boundary of physical conformation, and 
as a proof that the being has now attained the highest 
degree of finishing which it was physically capable of 

The rule, therefore, must be thus expressed : the less 
time an animal requires for its formation in th e mother's 
womb, or the egg, the sooner it will perish. The ele- 
phant, which goes with young till the third year, live] 


also longest ; but the hind, the cow, the dog, which go 
with young only from two to nine months, have a much 
shorter existence. Quod cito fit, cito peril.* 

Another law of great importance must also not be 
omitted ; the sooner a being attains maturity, the sooner 
it propagates ; but "the shorter will be the time of its 
duration. This law, which we find so perfectly con- 
firmed in the vegetable kingdom, prevails likewise, 
without exception, in the animal. The greatest in- 
stance of it is afforded by insects. Their first period 
towards maturity, that is, their state as larva?, may con- 
tinue very long, even several years ; but as soon as they 
have undergone their grand transformation, that is, have 
attained maturity, their existence is completely ended. 
And among quadrupeds, it is certain that we may de- 
termine the life of an animal with considerable pre- 
cision, if we consider the epoch of maturity as the fifth 
part of the whole duration of its existence. 

The horse, ass, and bull, are at maturity in the third 
or fourth year, and live from fifteen years to twenty. 
Sheep come to maturity the second year, and live from 
eight to ten years. 

All horned animals, in general, live shorter than 
those which have not horns. 

Animals with dark-colored black flesh, are, on the 
whole, longer-lived than those which have white flesh. 

And all quiet, timid animals, have a shorter existence 
than those of a contrary temperament. 

A certain covering of the body seems, in a particular 
manner, to have a great influence on the duration of 
life. Thus birds, which undoubtedly have the best and 
* That which is quickly formed, quickly perishes. 


most durable covering, live exceedingly long ; as do also 
the elephant, the rhinoceros, and the crocodile, which 
have the strongest skin. 

The nature of their motion has its influence also. 
Running seems to be the least favorable to duration of 
life; while, on the other hand, swimming, flying, and, 
in short, that motion which is compounded of the active 
and the passive, seems to be the most favorable. 

This principle, therefore, is confirmed : the more in- 
tensive the life of a being is, and the less its internal 
consumption, that is to say, according to the common 
mode of expression, the more imperfect the life of a 
being is, it will be so much the more lasting. On the 
other hand, the tenderer, finer, and more complex the 
organization, and the more perfect the life is, it will be 
of so much the less duration. 

This is shown in the clearest manner, by the follow- 
ing observations : 

1st. Zoophytes, or plant animals, whose whole organ- 
ization consists in a mouth, a stomach, and a straight 
gut, have a life exceedingly tenacious and difficult to be 

2nd. All cold-blooded animals have, in general, a 
stronger and longer life than the warm-blooded ; or, 
what amounts to the same thing, those which do not 
breathe have in this an advantage over those which 
breathe. And for what reason ? Breathing is the 
source of internal heat, and accelerates consumption. 
An animal which breathes has, as it were, a double cir- 
culation, the common and the less through the lungs ; 
besides a double surface, which comes into continual 
contact with the atmosphere, the skin, and the superfices 


of the lungs ; lastly, a far stronger irritability, and con- 
sequently a much greater self-consumption both inter- 
nally and externally. 

3rd. Animals which inhabit the water live longer, in 
general, than those that reside in the air ; and for this 
reason, because an animal in water evaporates very 
little, and because water does not consume nearly so 
much as the atmosphere. 

4th. Lastly, the strongest proof what an astonishing 
effect lessening the external consumption has in the 
prolongation of life, is afforded by instances where that 
consumption has been rendered totally impossible. I 
mean those of toads inclosed in blocks of stone, where, 
by the external consumption being suspended, they pre- 
served their life so much the longer. In that s'ate 
nothing could evaporate, nothing could be dissolved ; 
for the small quantity of air which was perhaps shut 
up with them, must have soon become so much satu- 
rated as to be incapable of receiving any thing more. 
On this account the animal could exist so long without 
nourishment ; for the need of nourishment arises from 
the loss which we sustain by evaporation and consump- 
tion. In such a state, where every thing remains as it 
was, no reparation is required. By such means the 
vital power and organization might be retained per- 
haps a hundred times longer than in the natural con- 

The last principle on which the duration of life is 
founded, more perfect restoration, is fully confirmed 
likewise in this kingdom of Nature. 

The highest degree of restoration is the reproduction 
of entirely new organs. 


This power is found, in a wonderful degree, in the 
class of plant-animals, worms, and amphibia, in short 
of those animals which have cold blood and no bones, 
or only such as are cartilaginous. And amongst all 
these animals there exists a most remarkable duration 
of life. 

Somewhat of the same nature is the casting of scales 
among fishes; of the skin among snakes, crocodiles, 
frogs, etc. : of the feathers and bill among birds : and 
we always observe, that the more perfect this renova- 
tion is, the duration of life is proportionably longer. 

A highly important circumstance, however, in regard 
to restoration, is nourishment ; and here a most essen- 
tial difference is manifested between the vegetable and 
animal world. All plants derive their nourishment 
from without : on the other hand, it is an invariable law 
of Nature, among animals, that the nourishment must 
first pass into a cavity or bag, commonly called the 
stomach, destined for that purpose, before it can be re- 
ceived into the mass of the juices and become a part of 
the animal ; and the imperfect polype, as well as the 
elephant, has these characteristics of the animal, a 
mouth, and a stomach. 

It is this which forms the grand basis of the animal 
world ; the characterizing difference between animals 
and plants ; and upon which is originally grounded the 
superior advantage of individuality ; of internal, more 
perfect, and more expanded life. Among animals, the 
substance which is received may obtain a far higher 
degree of preparation than among plants ; the roots 
(the lacteal vessels) are, as it were, within ; and receive 
the nourishing juices, already assimilated and purified, 


through the intestines. Animals, therefore, are subject 
to more secretions and excretions than plants ; and, for 
the same reason, the course of the nourishing juices 
and of all movements proceeds, among animals, from 
the internal to the external part, and among plants from 
the external to the internal. For this reason, also, the 
progress of death, in an animal, is from the external to 
the internal parts : in a plant the case is reversed ; and 
one may often see trees without pith or internal sub- 
stance, of which nothing exists but the bark, and which, 
however, still continue to live. For the above reason, 
likewise, animals can receive nourishment far more 
various, and restore themselves in a much more perfect 
manner, and, by these means, counterbalance the 
stronger self-consumption. 


Duration of the life of man. Apparently inci'edible age of the patri- 
archs explained. Age of the world has no influence on the duration 
of human life. Instances of great age among the Jews, Greeks, 
and Romans. Tables of the Census under Vespasian. Instances 
of great age among kings, emperors, and popes. Frederick II. 
Among hermits and monks; philosophers and men of letters; poets 
and artists. Instances of the greatest age to be found only among 
country people, hunters, gardeners, soldiers, and sailors. Few to 
be found among physicians. Shortest life. Difference of age 
according to the climate. 

LET us now proceed to the grand source of our 
information, the history of man ; and let me there col- 
lect examples which will be of utility in the present 

I shall, therefore, lay before my readers the most 
remarkable instances of the greatest age among man- 
kind ; and we shall thence see in what climate, under 
what favorable circumstances, in what condition, and 
what state both of mind and body man has attained to 
the highest degree of longevity : an agreeable review, 
which will make known to us a peculiar part of the 
history of the world, the history of the age of man, and 
the venerable gallery of the Nestors of ancient periods 
and nations. I shall occasionally add a few short char- 
acteristics, to give at the same time a hint how far 
character and temperament have an influence on the 
duration of life. 


It is commonly believed that, during the early peri- 
ods of the world, the lives of its inhabitants were more 
youthful and more perfect ; that these primitive men 
had a gigantic size, incredible strength, and a most 
astonishing duration of life. A variety of such notions 
were long prevalent among mankind ; and to these we 
are indebted for the origin of many romantic tales. 
Some have not hesitated seriously to ascribe to our 
forefather Adam, the height of nine hundred yards, and 
the age of almost a thousand years. But the accurate 
and rational investigation of modern philosophy has 
converted the supposed bones of giants, found in differ- 
ent parts of the earth, into those of the elephant and 
rhinoceros; and acute theologists have shown that the 
chronology of the early ages was not the same as that 
used at present. Some, particularly Hensler, have 
proved, with the highest probability, that the year till 
the time of Abraham consisted only of three months ; 
that it was afterwards extended to eight ; and that it 
was not till the time of Joseph that it was made to con- 
sist of twelve. These assertions are, in a certain de- 
gree, confirmed by some of the eastern nations, who still 
reckon only three months to the year ; and besides, it 
would be altogether inexplicable why the life of man 
should have been shortened one half immediately after 
the flood. It would be equally inexplicable why the 
patriarchs did not marry till their sixtieth, seventieth, 
and even hundredth year; but this difficulty vanishes 
when we reckon these ages according to the before- 
mentioned standard, which will give the twentieth or 
thirtieth year ; and consequently, the same periods at 
which people marry at present. The whole, therefore, 


according to this explanation, assumes a different ap- 
pearance. The sixteen hundred years before the flood 
will become four hundred and fourteen ; and the nine 
hundred years (the highest recorded) which Methuselah 
lived, will be reduced to two hundred, an age which 
is not impossible, and to which some men in modern 
times have nearly approached. 

In profane history, also, we have an account of many 
heroes and Arcadian kings of those periods who attained 
to the age of several hundred years ; but these pre- 
tended instances of longevity can be explained in the 
same manner. 

With the period of Abraham, a period when history 
seems first to be established on more certain grounds, 
we find mention of a duration of life which can be still 
attained, and which no longer appears extraordinary, 
especially when we consider the temperate manner in 
which the patriarchs lived; and that, as they were 
nomades, or a wandering people, they were much ex- 
posed to the free open air. 

From the history of the Jews we are enabled to col- 
lect the following facts. Abraham, a man of great and 
resolute mind, who was fortunate in all his undertakings, 
attained to the age of 175 years ; his son Isaac, a chaste, 
peaceable man, and fond of tranquillity, to 180 ; Jacob, 
who was also a lover of peace, but crafty and cunning, 
lived only 147; Ishmael, a warrior, 137; Sarah, the 
only female of the ancient world with whose duration of 
life we are acquainted, lived 127 years; Joseph, a man 
of great prudence and political talents, much afflicted in 
his youth, but greatly honored in his latter days, lived 
to the age of 110. 


Moses, a man of extraordinary strength and spirit, 
rich in deeds but weak in words, carried his life, during 
which he was exposed to great care and fatigue, to the 
age of 120. But he even complains that the life of man 
endures only threescore and ten, or at most fourscore 
years ; and we hence find that, in regard to age, the 
case was exactly the same three thousand years ago as 
it is at present. 

The warlike and ever active Joshua lived to the age 
of 110. Eli, the high-priest, a corpulent, phlegmatic 
man, of a resigned disposition, lived to be only 90 ; but 
Elisha, severe towards others and towards himself, who 
despised convenience and riches, lived far above 100. 
In the latter period of the Jewish State, the prophet 
Simeon, a man full of hope and confidence in God, was 
distinguished by a li e of 90 years. 

However replete with fables the history of the Egyp- 
tians may be, the age of their kings, recorded from the 
earliest periods, presents nothing remarkable. The 
longest reign is somewhat above fifty years. 

If we judge according to the account of Lucian, we 
must form a very high idea of the great age of the 
Seres, or the ancient Chinese. They are expressly call- 
ed Macrobii ; and Lucian ascribes their longevity to their 
drinking water in great abundance. Is it not probable 
that they may, even then, have been acquainted with 

Among the Greeks we find several instances of great 
age. The wise Solon, a man of much magnanimity, 
depth of thought and ardent patriotism, though not in- 
different in regard to the enjoyments of life, attained 
the age of 80. 


Epiraenides of Crete is said to have lived 157 years. 
The poet Anacreon, so fond of mirth and jollity, lived 
to the age of 80 ; as did also Sophocles and Pindar. 
Georgias of Leontium, a great orator, a man who had 
travelled much, and who spent a great deal of his time 
in the company of young people and in giving them in- 
.struction, prolonged his life to the age of 108 years. 
Protagoras of Abdera, an orator and traveller also, 
lived 90 ; and Isocrates, a man of great temperance and 
modesty, lived 98. Democritus, the friend and searcher 
of Nature, a man also of a good temper and serene 
mind, lived 109 years ; and the frugal, but slovenly 
Diogenes, 90. Zeno, the founder of the Stoical sect, 
and a master in the art of self-denial, attained nearly 
to the age of 100 years ; and Plato, one of the most di- 
vine geniuses that ever existed, and a friend to rest and 
calm meditation, to that of 81. Pythagoras, who in 
his doctrine recommended good regimen, moderation of 
the passions, and the gymnastic exercises, became also 
very old. He used to divide the life of man into four 
equal parts. From the first to the twentieth year he 
called him a child, a man begun ; from the twentieth to 
the fortieth, a young man ; from the fortieth to the six- 
tieth, a man ; from the sixtieth to the eightieth, an old 
or declining man ; and after this period he reckoned 
him no more among the living, let him live to whatever 
age he might. 

Among the Romans the following instances deserve 
to be remarked : 

M. Valerius Corvinus, a man of great boldness and 
courage, extremely popular, and always fortunate, was 
above the age of 100. Orbilius, the celebrated Orbil- 


ius, first a soldier and then a pedagogue, but who always 
exercised military severity, attained, in this kind of life, 
to the age of above 100 years. How far Hermippus, 
the instructor of young maids, carried his life, we have 
seen before. Fabius, well known on account of his de- 
lay, showed, by an age of 90 years, that something may 
be gained even from death by the same means. And 
Cato, that man with an iron body and iron mind, fond 
of a country life, and an enemy to physicians, lived to 
the age of above 90. 

We have likewise remarkable instances of the lon- 
gevity of Roman ladies. Terentia, the wife of Cicero, 
notwithstanding her many misfortunes, cares, and the 
gout, with which she was tormented, lived to the age of 
103. And Livia, the wife of Augustus, an imperious, 
passionate, but fortunate woman, attained to that of 90. 

It is particularly worthy of remark, that several in- 
stances occur of Roman actresses who became old ; an 
advantage which they have now unfortunately lost, and 
which seems to show that more vital consumption is 
connected with their occupation at present than former- 
ly. One Luceja, who came on the stage very young, 
performed a whole century, and even made her appear- 
ance publicly when in her 112th year. Galeria Copi- 
ola, an actress, and dancer also, w r as 90 years old when 
she first performed in the theatre ; and she was again 
brought forward as a wonder, in order to compliment 
Pompey. But this even was not the last time of her 
acting ; for she appeared once more, to show her re- 
spect for Augustus. 

A very valuable collection in regard to the duration 
of life in the time of the emperor Vespasian, has been 


preserved to us by Pliny, from the records of the Cen- 
sus, a source perfectly sure and worthy of credit. It 
there appears, that in the year when that numbering of 
the people took place, the seventy-sixth of our era, 
there were living in that part of Italy which lies be- 
tween the Apennines and the Po, only 124 men who 
had attained the age of 100 years and upwards, name- 
ly, fifty-four of 100, fifty-seven of 110, two of 125, four 
of 130, four of from 135 to 137, and three of 140. Be- 
sides these, there were in Parma five men, three of 
whom were 120, and two 130 ; in Placentia, one of 130 ; 
at Faventia, a woman of 132 ; and in Vellejacium, a 
small town near Placentia, there lived ten persons, six 
of whom had attained to the age of 110, and four to 
that of 120. 

The bills of mortality also of the celebrated Ulpian 
agree in a most striking manner with ours, and in par- 
ticular with those of great cities. From these it appears 
that one might with great propriety compare Rome to 
London, in regard to the probability of the duration of 

We have sufficient reason, therefore, to believe that 
the duration of life in the time of Moses, the Greeks, 
and the Romans, was invariably the same as at present ; 
and that the age of the earth has no influence on the 
longevity of its inhabitants, that difference excepted 
which may be produced by the cultivation of its sur- 
face, and the difference of climate that may thence 

Thus, for example, it is certain that in Italy, at pre- 
sent, neither so many nor so old people are to be found 
as in the time of Vespasian ; but the reason is, that the 


climate then, on account of the woods and forests, was 
much colder,* and rendered the men more robust. It 
is also not improbable that the natural warmth of the 
earth itself may alter, and be accumulated sometimes in 
one region and diminished in another. 

The result of this research will therefore be, that man 
can still attain to the same age as ever. The difference 
only is, that more attained to old age formerly than at 

Let us now take a view of the different states and 
conditions of men, ^n4, in this respect, turn our eyes in 
particular to modern times. 

To begin with emperors, kings, and, in short, the 
great ones of the earth : has Nature, which has con- 
ferred upon them, in the highest degree, all the advan- 
tages and enjoyments of this world, bestowed upon them 
also her best gift, a longer duration of life ? Unfortu- 
nately not. Neither ancient nor modern history informs 
us that this prerogative belongs exclusively to them. 
In ancient history we find only a few kings w r ho attained 
to their eightieth year ; and this is equally the case in 
the modern. In the whole catalogue of Roman and 
German emperors, reckoning from Augustus to the pres- 
ent time, which includes altogether above two hundred, 
we find, (the two first, Augustus and Tiberius, except- 
ed) only four who arrived at the age of 80 ; namely, 
Gordian, Valerian, Anastasius, and Justinian. 

Augustus, a man of a peaceful, moderate disposition, 
though quick and lively in action, temperate in the en- 

* Of this we have several instances. Pliny, for example, 
speaks of winters when the wine was congealed in the cellars, 
and the Tyber frozen to the bottom. 


joyments of the table, but more susceptible therefore of 
the pleasure arising from the arts and the sciences, at- 
tained to the age of seventy-six. He used none but the 
simplest food ; ate only when he had an appetite ; never 
drank above a pint of wine ; and considered mirth and 
good company as the best seasoning of his meals. He 
possessed a serene mind, was a great favorite of fortune, 
and entertained such ideas respecting the term of life, 
that he said to his friends a little before his death, Plau- 
dite, amid ! " Applaud, my friends ; the farce is ended ! " 
a disposition of mind exceedingly favorable to longev- 
ity. In the thirtieth year of his age he was attacked 
by so severe and dangerous a disease that his life was 
despaired of. It was a sort of nervous disorder, which, 
by the warmth and hot baths recommended to him by 
his ordinary physicians, must have been rendered still 
worse. Antonius Musa resolved to treat his case in a 
manner totally different. He obliged him to keep him- 
self perfectly cool, and to use the cold bath ; and by 
these 1 means his health was again soon restored. This 
disorder, as well as the useful change which it effected 
in his mode of living, contributed very much, in all pro- 
bability, to the prolongation of his life. 

From this account we learn also, that the method by 
the cold bath is improperly called the English method, 
since it appears to be of so great antiquity. 

The emperor Tiberius lived two years longer. He 
was of a violent temper, but vir lentis maxillis,* as Au- 
gustus called him ; a friend to voluptuousness, though 

* Literally : "A man of slow jaws," which may mean that he 
masticated slowly, as well as that he was moderate in the quan- 
tity of his food. EDITOR. 


still attached to regimen, and, even amidst enjoyment, 
not inattentive to his health ; so that he used to say he 
considered a man as a fool, who, after the thirtieth year 
of his age, consulted physicians respecting diet ; because 
every one, with the least attention, must before that pe- 
riod have discovered what was useful and what preju- 
dicial to him. 

Aurengzeb, that celebrated conqueror, attained to the 
age of 100 ; but he is not to be considered so much a* 
king as a nomade or wanderer. 

Great age is equally uncommon in the royal and] 
princely families of modern times. We must, however, 
except the kings of France, of the house of Bourbon, 
two of whom, who succeeded each other, attained the 
age of 70. 

Frederic IL, that great prince, one of the most im- 
portant instances in modern times, must not be here 
omitted. He was great in every thing, even in what 
related to his medicine. Pie not only attained to an age 
very rare among kings that of 7C, but, what is still 
of greater weight, attained to it amidst a life more ex- 
posed to care, labor, and fatigue, than that perhaps of 
any other man who ever existed, as he spent twenty 
years of it in active war, during which he submitted to 
all the toils of a common soldier ; but with this differ- 
ence, that, as commander-in-chief he thought for all, and 
frequently passed the night, while others were enjoying 
repose, in the deepest meditation, and in forming new 
plans for his future operations. 

The ecclesiastical princes, in this respect, -have not 
been more fortunate. Of three hundred popes, who 
may be reckoned up, no more than five attained to or 


exceeded the age of eighty, though they possessed the 
advantage of obtaining the pontifical chair at a late pe- 
riod, and had therefore a greater probability of enjoy- 
ing longevity. 

An extraordinary number of instances, however, may 
be found among the hermits and monks, who, with the 
strictest regimen, self-denial, and abstraction, while they 
divested themselves of all human passions, and avoided 
such intercourse as might tend to excite them, led a life 
of contemplation, but united with bodily exercise and the 
enjoyment of free air. Thus the apostle John attained 
to the age of 93 ; Paul the hermit, by means of an al- 
most incredibly severe regimen in a grotto, to that of 
113 ; and St. Anthony to that of 105. Athanasius and 
Jerome also exceeded the age of 80.* In modern times, 
since mental abstraction, self-denial, and temperance 
have undergone some variations, instances of this kind 
are become more uncommon. 

Deep-thinking philosophers have at alj times been 
distinguished by their great age, especially when their 
philosophy was occupied in the study of Nature, and 
afforded them the divine pleasure of discovering new 
and important truths : the purest enjoyment, a benefi- 
cial exaltation of ourselves, and a kind of restoration 
which may be ranked among the principal means of 
prolonging the life of a perfect being. The most an- 
cient instances are to be found among the Stoics and 
the Pythagoreans, according to whose ideas subduing the 
passions and sensibility, with the observation of strict 

* St. David lived to the age of 146 ; Theodore, Archbishop of 
Canterbury, to that of 88 ; and Wilfred, Bishop of Hexham, 
through a turbulent career, to 76. EDITOR. 


regimen, were the most essential duties of a philosopher. 
We have already considered the example of a Plato and 
an Isocrates. Apollonius of Tyana, an accomplished 
man, endowed with extraordinary powers both of body 
and mind, who, by the Christians, was considered as a 
magician, and by the Greeks and Romans as a messen- 
ger of the gods, in his regimen a follower of Pythago- 
ras, and a friend to travelling, was above 100 years of 
age. Xenophilus, a Pythagorean also, lived 106 years. 
The philosopher Demonax, a man of the most severe 
manners and uncommon stoical apathy, lived likewise 
100. Being asked, a little before his death, how he 
wished to be buried, he replied, " Give yourself no con- 
cern on that point ; the smell will soon bury the car- 
cass." " But," returned his friends, " do you wish, then, 
to become food to the dogs and the birds?" '"Why 
not ? " replied he ; " during my whole life I have en- 
deavored as much as I could to be serviceable to man, 
why should I not, after my death, be of some use also 
to animals?" 

Even in modern times philosophers seem to have ob- 
tained this preeminence, and the deepest thinkers 
appear in that respect to have enjoyed, in a higher de- 
gree, the fruits of their mental tranquillity. Kepler 
and Bacon both attained to a great age ; and Newton, 
who found all his happiness and pleasure in the higher 
spheres, attained to the age of 84.* Euler, a man of in- 
credible industry, whose works on the most abstruse 
subjects amount to above three hundred, approached 

* Kepler only reached the age of 59 ; Bacon attained that of 
78; and Euler, 77. EDITOR, 


near to the same age ; and Kant, the first philosopher 
now alive, still shows that philosophy not only can pre- 
serve life, but that it is the most faithful companion of 
the greatest age, and an inexhaustible source of happi- 
ness to one's self and to others.* 

Academicians, in this respect, have been particularly 
distinguished. I need mention only the venerable Fon- 
tenelle, who wanted but one year of a hundred, and that 
Nestor, Formey, both perpetual secretaries, the former 
of the French, and the latter of the Berlin Academy. 

We find, also, many instances of long life among 
schoolmasters; so that one might almost believe that 
continual intercourse with youth may contribute some- 
thing towards our renovation and support. 

But poets and artists, in short all those fortunate mor- 
tals whose principal occupation leads them to be con- 
versant with the sports of fancy and self-created worlds, 
and whose whole life, in the properest sense, is an 
agreeable dream, have a particular claim to a place in 
the history of longevity. We have already seen to 
what a great age Anacreon, Sophocles, and Pindar at- 
tained. Young, Voltaire, Bodmer, Haller, Metastasio, 
Gleim, Utz, and Oeser, all lived to be very old ;f and 

* Kant died in 1804, having lived to the age of 80. EDITOR. 

t The following short list of the ages of distinguished men 
may be interesting to the reader in this place ; for a more com- 
plete catalogue, arranged according to the classes of science and 
literature upon which they shed their light, he is referred to Mad- 
den's " Infirmities of Genius." 

Tasso 61 

Virgil .... 62 
Shakspeare . . . .62 
Moliere .... 63 
Dante 56 

Pope 56 

Ovid 57 

Horace .... 57 

Kacine 59 

Demosthenes ... 59 



I here flatter myself with the hope, and I shall no 
doubt be joined in my wish by every one of my readers, 
that Wieland, the prince of the German poets, may af- 
ford the newest confirmation of this position.* 

The most extraordinary instances of longevity are to 
be found, however, only among those classes of .man- 
kind who, amidst bodily labor, and in the open air, lead 
a simple life agreeable to nature, such as farmers, gar- 
deners, hunters, soldiers, and sailors. In these situa- 
tions man still attains to the age of 140, and even 150. 
I cannot here deny myself the pleasure of giving a 
more particular account of some of these instances ; for, 
in cases of this kind, the most trifling circumstance is 
often interesting, and may be of importance. 


. 60 

Thucydides . 

. 80 





Bocaccio ... 

. 62 

. 80 






. 63 

Buffon . 

. 81 





Milton .... 

. 66 

Claude . 

. 82 

Rousseau . 


West . 



. 69 


. 84 

Cervantes . 





. 69 

Herschell . 

. 84 



Anacreon . 



. 70 

Newton . 

. 85 



Voltaire . 



. 71 


. 86 



Sophocles . 


La Fontaine . 

. 74 


. 91 

Handel . 


Hans Sloane 



. 75 


. 95 



Michael Angelo 


Swift .... 


Titian . 

. 96 

Roger Bacon . . 


Herodias . 

. 100 


. 78 

Fontenelle . 

. 100 



Georgias . 

. 107 


* Wialand died insane at the age of eighty, in January, 1813. 


In the year 1670 died Henry Jenkins, of Yorkshire. 
He remembered the battle of Floddenfield in 1513, and 
at that time he was twelve years of age. It was 
proved, from the registers of the Chancery and other 
Courts, that he had appeared, 140 years before his 
death, as an evidence, and had an oath administered to 
him. At the time of his death, he was, therefore, 169 
years old. His last occupation was fishing; and when 
above the age of 100, he was able to swim across rapid 

Next to him, in point of age, is another Englishman, 
Thomas Parr, of Shropshire. He was a poor farmer's 
servant, and obliged to maintain himself by daily labor. 
When above 120 years of age, he married a widow for 
his second wife, who lived with him twelve years, and 
who asserted that during that time he never betrayed 
any signs of infirmity or age. Till his 130th year he 
performed all his usual work, and was accustomed even 
to thresh. Some years before his death, his eyes and 
memory began to fail ; but his hearing and senses con- 
tinued sound to the last. In his 152nd year his fame 
had reached London ; and as the king was desirous of 
seeing so great a rarity, he was induced to undertake a 
journey thither. This, in all probability, shortened his 
existence, which he otherwise might have preserved 
some years longer ; for he was treated at Court in so 
royal a manner, and his mode of living was so totally 
changed, that he died soon after, at London, in 1635. 
He was 152 years and nine months old, and had lived 
under nine kings of England. What was most remark- 
able in regard to this man is, that when his body was 
opened by Dr. Harvey, his internal organs were found 


to be in the most perfect state, nor was the least symp- 
tom of decay to be discovered in them. His cartilages 
even were not ossified, as is the case in all old people. 
The smallest cause of death had not yet settled in his 
body ; and he died merely of a plethora, because he had 
been too well treated. 

This Parr is a proof that, in many families, a consti- 
tution so favorable to longevity may transmit a remark- 
ably good stamen vitce. His great grandson died at 
Cork, a few years ago, at the age of 103. 

The following instance is almost of the same kind : 
A Dane, named Draakenberg, born in 1626, served as a 
seaman in the Royal Navy till the ninety -first year of 
his age, and spent fifteen years of his life as a slave in 
Turkey, and in the greatest misery. When he was 111, 
and had settled to enjoy tranquillity, he resolved to 
marry, and united himself to a woman of threescore. 
He, however, outlived her a long time ; and in his 
130th year, fell in love with a young country girl, who, 
as may be well supposed, rejected his proposal. He 
then tried his fortune with several others, but as he had 
no better success, he at length resolved to continue 
single, and in that condition lived sixteen years. He 
died in the year 1772, in the 146th year of his age. 
He was a man of a rather violent temper, and exhibited 
frequent proofs of his strength during the last years of 
his life. 

In the year 1757, J. Emngham died in Cornwall, in 
the 144th year of his age. He was born of poor pa- 
rents in the reign of James I., and had been brought up 
to labor from his infancy. He had served long as a 
soldier and corporal ; and had been present at the bat<~ 


tie of Hochstedt. He at length returned to the place 
of his nativity, and worked as a day-laborer till his 
death. It is to be remarked, that in his youth he never 
drank strong, heating liquors ; that he always lived re- 
markable temperately, and seldom ate flesh. Till his 
100th year he scarcely knew what sickness was ; and 
eight days before his end, he had walked three miles. 

In the year 1792, died, in the Duchy of Holstein, an 
industrious day-laborer, named Stender, in the 103rd 
year of his age. His food, for the most part, was noth- 
ing but oatmeal and buttermilk. He rarely ate flesh ; 
and what he used was always much salted. He scarcely 
ever had thirst, and therefore drank very seldom. He 
was fond of smoking tobacco. In his old age he first 
began to drink tea, and sometimes coffee. He lost his 
teeth early. He was never sick ; and could not be out 
of humor ; that is to say, it was physically impossible 
that his bile should ever overflow. He avoided with 
great care every cause of strife or contention. He 
had the greatest trust in Providence ; and this was his 
consolation and support in all his misfortunes and 
troubles. His chief dependence always was in the 
goodness of God. 

One of the most singular instances that, amidst the 
ficklest sports of fortune, continual danger, and the 
most destructive influences, the life of man may be pre- 
served to an incredible length, is the following : An 
old soldier, named Mittelstedt, died in Prussia, in the 
year 1792, in the 112th year of his age. This man 
was born at Fissahn, in that country, in the month of 
June, 1681 ; and was lost at the gaming-table by his 
master, who in one evening staked his whole equipage 


and six more servants. He then entered into the army, 
and served as a soldier sixty-seven years. He was 
present in all the campaigns under Frederick I., Fred- 
erick William L, and Frederick II., and, in particular, 
in those of the seven years' war ; and had been engaged 
in seventeen general actions, in which he braved num- 
berless dangers and received many wounds. In the 
seven years' war his horse was shot under him, and he 
was then taken prisoner by the Russians. After sup- 
porting all these difficulties, he married ; and having 
lost two wives successively, he married a third, in 
1790, when he w r as in the 110th year of his age. A 
little before his death he was still able to walk two 
miles, every month, in order to receive his small pension. 

The same year died at Neus, in the Archbishopric 
of Cologne, H. Kauper, a veteran of 112. He wns 
a man of a strong make; had been accustomed to 
walk a little every day ; could read till his death with- 
out spectacles, and retained the use of his senses to the 

Helen Gray died a few years ago, in the 105th year 
of her age. She was of small stature, exceedingly 
lively, peaceable, and good-tempered, and a few years 
before her death acquired new teeth. 

Thomas Garrick was alive last year, (1795,) in the 
county of Fife, in the 108th year of his age. He still 
possessed great vigor ; and was celebrated, as he always 
had been, on account of his extraordinary appetite. For 
twenty years he had never been confined to his bed by 

Not long ago there was still alive at Tacony, near 
Philadelphia, a shoemaker named R. Glen, in the 114th 


year of his age. He was by birth a Scotchman, had 
seen King William III., enjoyed the perfect use of his 
sight and memory, ate and drank with a keen appetite, 
had a good digestion, labored the whole week, and on 
Sunday walked to hear divine service in the church 
at Philadelphia. His third wife was still alive ; she 
was thirty years of age, and lived happily with her 

A certain baron, Baravicino de Capellis, died in 1770, 
at Meran, in Tyrol, at the age of 104. He had been 
married to four wives : the first he married in his four- 
teenth, and the last in his eighty-fourth year. By his 
fourth wife he had seven children, and when he died 
she was pregnant with the eighth. The vigor of his 
body and mind did not forsake him till the last months 
of his life. He never used spectacles, and when at a 
great age would frequently walk a couple of miles. 
His usual food was eggs ; he never tasted boiled flesh; 
sometimes he ate a little roasted, but always in very 
small quantity : and he drank abundance of tea with 
rosa-solis* and sugar-candy. 

Anthony Senish, a farmer of the village of Puy, in 
Limoges, died in 1770, in the lllth year of his age. 
He labored till within fourteen days of his death; 
had still his teeth and his hair; and his sight had 
not failed him. His usual food was chestnuts and 
Turkish corn. He had never been bled, nor used any 

These are all the instances of great age in modern 
times with which I am 'acquainted. Persons of 100 
years I omit, for these are more common. A carpenter 

* A plant having the character of being a "cordial." EDITOR. 


died a few years ago at Btirgel, near this place, in his 
104th year. He worked daily till his death ; and his 
favorite employment, at last, was spinning yarn. One 
day, as he was sitting at his wheel, his daughter ob- 
served it motionless ; she immediately went up to him, 
and found him dead. 

Physicians, who so abundantly dispense to others the 
means of health and life, ought to claim here a distin- 
guished place. But unfortunately this is not the case. 
It may be said of them, in general : Aliis inserviendo 
consumuntur; aliis medendo moriuntur.* 

At any rate, mortality is greater among practical 
physicians than perhaps among men of any other pro- 
fession. They have the least opportunity of observing 
those prudential rules and precautions, for preserving 
health, which they lay down to others ; and there are 
few employments in which the powers both of the body 
and mind are exposed to so much consumption as in 
this. Head and feet must be always exercised in com- 
mon. But the greatest mortality prevails during the 
first ten years of their practice. A physician who has 
fortunately withstood that period, attains to a certain 
strength of constitution, a kind of insensibility to fatigue 
and the causes of disease ; by custom, noxious effluvia 
and the poison of infectious disorders becomes less pre- 
judicial; and he acquires more indifference for the 
heart-melting scenes of woe, and the numberless mise- 
ries, the consequences of vice and moral evil, which his 
business condemns him to be a daily spectator of: and 

* In serving others they are consumed ; in healing others they 
are destroyed. EDITOR. 


thus a physician who has luckily passed his time of 
probation, may become an old man ; 

A striking instance of this is afforded by our prede- 
cessor, Hippocrates, who lived to the age of 109. His 
whole life was employed in the study of Nature, in 
travelling, and in visiting the sick ; but he passed more 
of his time in small villages and in the country than in 
great cities. Galen, Crato, Forestus, Plater, Hoffman, 
Haller, Van Swieten, and Boerhaave all attained to a 
considerable age.* 

In regard to shortness of life, miners, and those em- 
ployed in melting-houses, are particularly distinguished, 
as well as those who live under the earth, or are con- 
tinually exposed to poisonous effluvia. In some mines, 
which contain much arsenic and cobalt, the workmen 
do not live to be older than thirty. 

I shall now take a short view of the difference of 
age, as arising from climate, or rather the nature of the 

Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and England have, in 

* The following list embraces a few distinguished names of 
medical philosophers who have attained an advanced age : 

Boerhaave . . . .70 
Haller .... 70 

Tissot 70 

Gall 71 

Darwin . . . .72 

Harvey . . . .81 

Mead .... 81 

Duhamel, . . . .82 

Astruc . 83 

Hoffman . . . . "83 
Van Swieten ... 72 Pinel .... 84 
Fallopius . . . .72 Swedenborg . . . .85 
Jenner . . . . 75 Morgagni .... 89 

Heister 75 Heberden . . . .92 

Cullen .... 78 Ruysch .... 93 

Galen 79 , Hippocrates . . .109 

Spallanzani . . . 79 I EDITOK. 


modern times, without doubt, produced the oldest men.* 
Instances of some who attained to the age of 130, 140, 
150, have occurred in these countries. 

However favorable a northern climate may be to 
longevity, too great a degree of cold is, on the other 
hand, prejudicial to it. In Iceland, and the northern 
parts of Asia, such as Siberia, men attain at most to the 
age of sixty or seventy. 

Besides England and Scotland, Ireland is celebrated 
for the longevity of its inhabitants. In Dunsford, a 
small place in that country, there were living, at one 
time, eighty persons above the age of fourscore. And 
Lord Bacon says there was not a village in the whole 
island, as he believed, in which there was not one man 
upwards of eighty. 

In France, instances of longevity are not so abun- 
dant ; though a man died there, in the year 1757, at the 
age of 121. 

The case is the same in Italy ; yet in the northern 
province of Lombardy there have been some instances 
of great age. 

In Spain, also, there have been some instances, though 
seldom, of men who lived to the age of 110. 

That healthy and beautiful country, Greece, is still 
as celebrated as it was formerly in regard to longevity. 
Tournefort found, at Athens, an old consul who was 

* In England, during the seven years 1838-44, there died at 
the age of 100 and upwards, 788 persons ; namely, 256 males, and 
532 females : giving an average of 112 1-2 annually. Of this 
number a very small proportion, namely 72 (27 males, 45 females), 
were returned from London; while 137 (43 males, 94 females), 
were inhabitants of Wales. EDITOR. 


118 years of age. The island Naxos is particularly 
celebrated on this account. 

Even in Egypt and India there are instances of 
long life, particularly among the Bramins, Anchorites, 
and Hermits, who detest the indolence and intemperance 
of the other inhabitants of these countries. 

Ethiopia formerly was much celebrated for its lon- 
gevity ; but a contrary account is given of it by Bruce. 

Some districts of Hungary are particularly distin- 
guished by the great age of the people who reside in 

Germany contains abundance of old persons ; but 
it affords few instances of very long life. 

Even in Holland people may become old ; but this is 
not often the case, and few live there to the age of a 


Eesult of the above observations. Age of the world has no influence- 
on that of its inhabitants. -Influence of climate and of the atmos- 
phere. Islands and peninsulas. Countries in Europe most favor- 
able to longevity. Advantages of temperance. The two most 
dreadful extremes of mortality in modern times. Moderation in 
all things has great effect in prolonging life. State of marriage. 
Female sex. Industry. Frugality. Civilization. Rural life. 
Renovation possible. Extent of human life determined. Absolute 
and relative duration of it. Tables respecting the latter. 

THAT 1 may not tire the patience of my readers by 
too great a multitude of examples, I shall here stop, and, 
in future, introduce them only occasionally, as the sub- 
ject may require. 

Let me be permitted, therefore, to collect the general 
result of the observations above made, and to draw from 
them the following important conclusions : 

I. The age of the world hitherto has had no percep- 
tible influence on that of man ; and people may still 
become as old as in the time of Abraham, and even of 
earlier epochs. There certainly have been periods 
when men lived sometimes longer and sometimes short- 
er ; but this evidently did not arise from the world, but 
from man himself. When men were in a savage state, 
simple, laborious children of Nature, and much exposed 
to the open air, as shepherds, hunters, and farmers, 
great age was very common among them ; but when 


they began gradually to despise the dictates of Nature, 
to study refinement, and to indulge in luxury, the dura- 
tion of their life became shorter. The same people, 
however, restored by a revolution to their former rude 
state, and to manners more agreeable to Nature, can 
again attain to their ancient longevity. These, conse- 
quently, are unsettled periods, which only pass away 
and return. Mankind, in general, do not suffer by them, 
and retain that duration of life which is appointed for 

II. Man, as we have above seen, can, in almost all 
climates, in the frigid or torrid zone, attain to a great 
age. The only difference seems to be, that this is the 
case in some much more than in others ; and that though 
man can attain to a great age, people in general do not 
attain to the greatest. 

III. Even in districts where mortality in general is 
very great, individuals may attain to a greater age than 
in places where general mortality is less. I shall, by 
way of example, mention the warm countries of the 
East. There, mortality, upon the whole, is very small : 
hence their extraordinary population ; and infancy, in 
particular, suffers there much less on account of the con- 
tinually uniform and pure temperature of the atmos- 
phere. Yet a much smaller proportion of old people 
are found in these countries than in the northern, where 
mortality in general is greater. 

IV. Places, the situation of which is high, have, in 
general, more and purer air than those which stand 
low ; though here, also, there is a certain limitation, and 
the rule cannot be thus laid down : the higher the better. 
The greatest degree of height, the glaciers, is, on the 


contrary, prejudicial to health ; and Switzerland, with- 
out doubt the highest land in Europe, has produced 
fewer instances of longevity than Scotland. For this 
there are two reasons : First, the atmosphere at a great 
height is too dry, ethereal, and pure, and consumes, 
therefore, speedier. Secondly, the temperature of it is 
too variable ; heat and cold succeed each other too rap- 
idly ; and nothing is more unfavorable to duration of 
life than very sudden changes. 

V. In cold climates, men in general become older 
than in warm ; and for two reasons : First, because, in. 
warm countries vital consumption is greater ; and se- 
condly, because, in cold countries, the climate, being 
more temperate, checks vital consumption. This, how- 
ever, is the case only in a certain degree. By the high- 
est cold, such as that of Greenland, Nova Zembla, etc., 
the duration of life is shortened. 

YI. Uniformity in the state of the atmosphere, parti- 
cularly in regard to heat, cold, gravity, and lightness, 
contributes, in a very considerable degree, to the dura- 
tion of life. Countries, therefore, where sudden and 
great variations in the barometer and thermometer are 
usual, cannot be favorable to longevity. Such countries 
may be healthy, and many men may become old i 
them ; but they will not attain to a great age, for all 
rapid variations are so many internal revolutions ; and 
these occasion an astonishing consumption, both of the 
powers and the organs. In this respect Germany is 
particularly distinguished; for its situation renders it 
subject to a continual mixture of heat and cold, of 
northern and southern climate, where one often experi- 
ences, in the course of the same day, both frost and the 


utmost heat ; and where the month of March may be 
extremely warm, and that of May accompanied with 
snow. This uncertainty of the climate of Germany is 
undoubtedly the principal cause that, notwithstanding 
the healthfulness of its situation in other points of view, 
and though in general people attain there to a consider- 
able age, instances of very great age occur much more 
rarely than in neighboring countries lying almost under 
the same degree of latitude. 

VII. Too high a degree of dryness, as well as too 
great moisture, are unfavorable to duration of life. Air, 
therefore, which contains a mixture of fine moisture, is 
the best for attaining to great age. The reasons are as 
follow : Moist air, being in part already saturated, has 
less attractive power over bodies ; that is to say, con- 
sumes them less. Besides, in a moist atmosphere there 
is always more uniformity of temperature ; and fewer 
rapid revolutions of heat and cold are possible. Lastly, 
.an atmosphere somewhat moist keeps the organs longer 
pliable and youthful ; whereas that which is too dry 
brings on much sooner aridity of the vessels, and all the 
characteristics of old age. 

A most striking proof of this is afforded by islands ; 
for we find that these, as well as peninsulas, have at all 
times been, and still are, the cradles of old age. In 
islands mankind always become older than in continents 
lying under the same degree of latitude. Thus men 
live longer in the islands of the Archipelago than in the 
neighbouring countries of Asia; in Cyprus, than in 
Syria ; in Formosa and Japan, than in China ; and in 
England and Denmark, than in Germany. 

Salt water also is more favourable to longevity than 


fresh ; and for that reason seafaring people can become 
so old. Stagnated fresh water, on the other hand, is 
hurtful, by its mephitic evaporation. 

VIII. A great deal seems to depend likewise on the 
ground and soil, in a word, on the whole genius loci ; 
and in this respect a cold soil appears to be the least 
calculated to promote longevity. 

IX. According to experience, England, Denmark, 
Sweden, and Norway, are the countries where men at- 
tain to the greatest age ; and we find by accurate obser- 
vation, that all the before-mentioned properties are in 
these united. On the other hand, Abyssinia, some parts 
of the West Indies, and Surinam, are countries where 
the life of man is shortest. 

X. The more a man follows Nature, and is obedient 
to her laws, the longer he will live; the further he 
deviates from these, the shorter will be his existence. 
This is one of the most general of laws. In the same 
districts, therefore, as long as the inhabitants lead a 
temperate life, as shepherds or hunters, they will attain 
to old age ; but as soon as they become civilized, and 
by these means sink into luxury, dissipation, and cor- 
ruption, their duration of life will be shortened. It is, 
therefore, not the rich and great, not those who take 
gold tinctures and wonder-working medicines, who be- 
come old ; but country labourers, farmers, mariners, and 
such men as perhaps never in their lives employed their 
thoughts on the means which must be used to promote 
longevity. It is among these people only that the most 
astonishing instances of it are to be observed. 

XI. The most dreadful degree of human mortality, 
occasioned by two inventions of modern times, is to be 


found among the slaves in the West Indies, and in 
hospitals for foundlings. Of the negro slaves, one in 
five or six dies annually ; a proportion equal to that 
which takes place during the ravages of the most in- 
veterate pestilence. And of 7000 children who are 
every year brought into the foundling hospital at Paris, 
180 only are alive at the end of ten years ; so that 6820 
perish, and no more than one in forty escapes from that 
sepulchre. Is it not highly worthy of remark, and a 
new proof of our former position, that mortality prevails 
in the greatest degree where men deviate farthest from 
Nature ; where her most sacred laws are despised ; and 
where her first and strongest bonds are torn asunder ? 
Where man, in the most evident manner, sinks below 
the brute, there the child is dragged from its mother's 
breast, and consigned helpless to the care of hirelings ; 
there one brother is separated from another, from his 
home, from his native soil, and transferred to a strange 
and unhealthy climate, where, without hope, without 
comfort, and without enjoyment, while his heart con- 
tinually sighs after those he left behind, he pines to 
death, oppressed with severity and labor. I am ac- 
quainted with no contagion, no plague, no state of man- 
kind, either in ancient or modern times, during which 
mortality prevailed to the degree which it does in or- 
phan-houses. To produce this evil required an excess 
of refinement reserved only for the most modern times. 
It required the aid of those wretched political calcula- 
tors who can assert that the State is the best motheiy 
and that nothing more is necessary to increase popula- 
tion than to declare children to be its property, to place 
them under its protection, and to establish a public abyss, 


which may swallow them up. People now see, when it 
is too late, the horrid consequences of this unnatural 
maternity; this contempt of the first grand pillar of 
human society, marriage and parental duty. In so 
dreadful a manner does Nature avenge every trans- 
gression of her most sacred commands. 

XII. The result of all experience, and a principal 
ground of longevity, is, omnia mediocria ad vitam pro- 
longandam sunt utilia. Moderation in very thing, the 
aurea mediocritas, so much extolled by Horace, and 
which Plume calls the best thing on earth, is indeed of 
the utmost efficacy in prolonging life. In a certain 
mediocrity of condition, climate, health, temperament, 
constitution, employment, spirits, diet, etc., lies the 
greatest secret for becoming old. By all extremes, 
either too much or too little, too high or too low, pro- 
longation of life is impeded. 

XIII. The following circumstance also is worthy of 
remark. All those people who have become very old, 
were married more than once, and generally at a very 
late period of life. There is not one instance of a bach- 
elor having attained to a great age. This observation 
is as applicable to the female as to the male sex ; and 
hence it would appear that a certain abundance in the 
power of generation is favorable to longevity. It forms 
an addition to the vital power ; and this power of pro- 
creation seems to be in the most intimate proportion to 
that of regenerating and restoring one's self; but a cer- 
tain regularity and moderation are requisite in the em- 
ployment of it ; and marriage is the only means by 
which these can be preserved. 


The greatest example of this is a Frenchman, named 
De Longueville, who lived to the age of 110. He had 
been married to ten wives ; his last wife he married 
when in his ninety-ninth year, and she bore him a son 
when he was in his hundred-and-first. 

XIV. More women than men become old ; but men 
only attain to the utmost extent of longevity. The 
equilibrium and pliability of the female body seem, for 
a certain time, to give it more durability, and to render 
it less susceptible of injury from destructive influences. 
But male strength is, without doubt, necessary to arrive 
at a very great age. More women, therefore, become 
old ; but fewer very old. 

XV. In the first half of man's age, an active, even a 
fatiguing life, is conducive to longevity ; but in the last 
half, a life that is peaceful and uniform. No instance 
can be found of an idler having attained to a remarka- 
bly great age. 

XVI. Rich and nourishing food, and an immoderate 
use of flesh, do not prolong life. Instances of the great- 
est age are to be found among men who from their 
youth have lived principally on vegetables, and who 
perhaps never tasted flesh. 

XVII. A certain degree of cultivation is physically 
necessary for man, and promotes duration of life. The 
wild savage does not live so long as man in a state of 
civilization. , 

XVIII. To live in the country and in small towns, is 
favorable to longevity : to live in great towns is unfa- 
vorable. In great cities, from one in twenty-five to one 
in thirty die every year ; in the country, from one in 



forty to one in fifty.* Mortality among children is in 
particular much increased by living in great cities, so 
that one half of those who are born die generally before 
the third year; whereas, in the country, the half are not 
carried off until the twentieth or thirtieth.f The small- 

* The data upon which Hufeland founded these statements 
were of a very inefficient character, as compared with those which 
we possess at the present day, in the labors of the Registrar-Gen- 
eral. Thus, instead of the mortality of large cities ranging from 
1 in 25 to 1 in 30, the highest known rate of mortality, namely 
that of Liverpool, is 1 in 30 ; while in the metropolis of London 
it is only 1 in 40. In the country, taking as examples, Kent, 
Surrey, and Northumberland, it ranges between one in 51, and 1 
in 71 1-2. In further illustration of this subject, I have selected 
the following examples from the Registrar-General's Report on 
the Mortality of England during the Seven Years 1838-44 : 


All England 1 in 44 


1 in 47 1-2 

Liverpool 1 " 28 . . 1 " 32 

London 1 " 37 . . "43 

Kent " 48 . . "54 

Surrey (rural) " 54 . . "57 

Thanct and Eastry ... " 54 . . "64 
Hendon and Barnet ... " 61 . . "63 
Bideford and Holsworthy . " 61 . . " 65 
Godstone, Reigate, Dorking "65 . . 1 " 62 
Northumberland (3 districts) "71 . . 1 " 72 


t According to the Registrar-General's report on the mortality 
of children, nearly one half of all that are born alive die before 
the end of the fifth year in Liverpool ; while the same number in 
London live to the age of 33 ; and in the county of Surrey to 50. 
In 1845 nearly one half of all the children born in Birmingham 
died under five years of age ; the entire half in Manchester died 
in the same period ; and more than one half in Liverpool. In 
London the proportion was between one half and one third ; and. 
in Wales less than one third. EDITOR. 


est degree of human mortality is one in sixty annually; 
and this proportion is found only here and there among 
country people.* 

XIX. Among some men a kind of renovation seems 
to be really possible. In several instances of great age 
it has been remarked that persons in their sixtieth or 
seventieth year, when others cease to live, acquired 
new teeth and new hair, and commenced as it were a 
new period of life, which continued twenty or thirty 
years longer : a kind of self-reproduction which is to be 
observed only among the more imperfect part of the 
creation, t 

The most remarkable instance of this kind with which 
I am acquainted, is an old magistrate named Bamberg, 
who lived at Rechingen in the Palatinate, and who died, 
in 1791, in the 120th year of his age. In 1787, long 
after he had lost all his teeth, eight new ones grew up. 
At the end of six months they again dropped out, but 
their place was supplied by other new ones, both in the 
upper and lower jaw ; and Nature, unwearied, continued 
this labor four years, and even till within a month of 
his death. After he had employed his new teeth for 
some time with great convenience in chewing his food, 

* In Northumberland, as is shown in the above table, it is 1 in 
71 1-2. EDITOR. 

t In my work on " Healthy Skin " I have mentioned several in- 
stances of very old persons in whom the natural color of the hair 
returned after they had been for years before grey. This was the 
case with John Weeks, who lived to the age of 114. Sir John 
Sinclair reports a similar occurrence in an old Scotchman, who 
lived to be 110; and Susan Edmonds, when in her 95th year, 
Tecovered her black hair, but became again grey previously to her 
death, at the age of 105. EDITOR. 


they took their leave, and new ones immediately sprang 
up in some of the sockets. All these teeth he acquired 
and lost without any pain ; and the whole number of 
them amounted at least to fifty. 

By the observations already made, we are now ena- 
bled to come to a conclusion respecting the important 
question : What is the proper term or 'boundary of 
human life ? One might believe that some degree of 
certainty could be acquired on this point; but it is in- 
credible what difference in opinion respecting it prevails 
among philosophers. Some allow man a very long, and 
others a very short duration of life. Some are of 
opinion that, to determine it, nothing is necessary but 
to examine to what extent it is carried among savages, 
because in that state of Nature the utmost period of 
life must be discovered with the greatest precision. 
This, however, is false. It ought to be considered that 
this state of Nature is likewise, for the most part, a 
state of misery, where the want of society and civiliza- 
tion obliges men to waste themselves, and to undergo 
fatigue superior to their strength ; and where, in conse- 
quence of their situation, they are exposed to more 
destructive influences, and enjoy much fewer means of 
restoration. We must not take our examples from the 
class of savages ; for these, in their properties, partici- 
pate with the inferior animals : but from that class 
where man, by culture and civilization, has really be- 
come a rational being ; for he has then in a physical 
sense first attained to his destination and preeminence, 
and, by the help of reason, has procured those means 
of restoration from without, and that happiness of situ- 
ation, which it is possible for him to acquire. It is then 


only that we can consider him as a man, and collect 
examples from his condition. 

One might also believe that death by marasmus, that 
is to say, by old age, is the true boundary of human 
life. But this reasoning, in the present times, is at- 
tended with great deception ; for, as Lichtenburg says, 
men have found out the art to ingraft old age upon 
themselves before the time ; and one may see very old 
people of thirty or forty, who have every symptom of 
extreme age, such as stiffness and aridity, weakness, 
grey hair, ossified cartilages, etc., which are observed 
very rarely but among persons who have attained to 
the age of eighty or ninety. This, however, is an arti- 
ficial relative old age ; and such a standard cannot be 
employed in a calculation which has for its object the 
duration of the life of man in general. 

Some, therefore, have invented the most singular 
hypotheses to answer this question. The ancient Egyp- 
tians, for example, believe that the heart increased two 
drachms annually in weight for fifty years, and de- 
creased again fifty years in the same proportion. In 
the hundredth year, according to this supposition, no 
more heart remained ; and, consequently, the hun- 
dredth year was the term or boundary of human life. 
To answer this question in a satisfactory manner, one 
must, in my opinion, make the following essential dis- 
tinction : 

1. How long can man exist, in general, considered 
as a race ; and what is the absolute duration of his life ? 
We know that each class of animals has a certain abso- 
lute duration of life, and the case must be the same 
with man. 


2. How long can man live as an individual; and 
what is the relative duration of his life ? 

With regard to the first question, the research re- 
specting the absolute duration of human life, there is 
nothing to prevent us from giving it the utmost extent 
to which, according to experience, it is possible for it to 
attain. It is here sufficient to know what man's nature 
is capable of; and a man who has attained to the far- 
thest .boundary of mortal existence, may be considered 
as a pattern of human nature in its utmost perfection, 
and as an instance of what is possible for it under favor- 
able circumstances. Now, experience incontestably 
tells us, that a man still may attain to the age of 150 
or 1 60 years, ; and what is of the greatest importance 
is, that the instance of Thomas Parr, whose body was 
opened in his 152nd year, proves that, even at this ajc, 
the state of the internal organs may be so perfect and 
sound that one might certainly live some time longer ; 
and that no doubt would have been the case with him, 
had not the manner in which he lived, by his not being 
accustomed to it, brought on a plethora which proved 
mortal. We may, therefore, with the greatest proba- 
bility, assert, that the organization and vital power of 
man are able to support a duration and activity of 200 

This assertion Acquires some weight by our finding 
that it agrees with the proportion between the time of 
growth and the duration of life. One may lay it down 
as a rule, that an animal lives eight times as long as it 
grows. Now, man in a natural state, where the period 
of maturity is not hastened by art, requires full twenty- 


five years to attain his complete growth and conforma- 
tion ; and this proportion also will give him an absolute 
age of 200 years. 

It needs not be objected that great age is the unnatu- 
ral state, or an exception from the rule ; and that a 
shorter life is properly the natural condition. We shall 
see hereafter, that almost all those kinds of death which 
take place before the hundredth year are brought on arti- 
ficially, that is to say, by disease or accident ; and it 
is certain that the far greater part of men die an unna- 
tural death, and that not above one in a thousand attains 
to the age of a hundred years. 

But with regard to the relative duration of human 
life : that, indeed, is extremely variable, and as differ- 
ent as each individual. It is regulated according to the 
goodness or badness of the mass of which the person is 
formed ; his manner of living ; speedier or slower con- 
sumption ; and a thousand internal and external cir- 
cumstances which may have an influence on the contin- 
uance of his existence. We must not imagine that every 
man, at present, brings with him into the world a vital 
stock capable of lasting 150 or 200 years. It is unfor- 
tunately the fate of our generation, that the sins of the 
father often communicate to the embryo a far shorter 
stamen vitce.* Let us only reflect on the innumerable 
host of diseases and accidents which openly and secretly 
prey upon our lives, and we sjiall clearly see that it is 
now far more difficult than ever to attain to thaU term 
which human nature is really capable of reaching. 
That term, however, we must make our foundation ; 

* Thread of life. EDITOR. 


and we shall afterwards examine how far it may be in 
our power to remove those obstacles which prevent us 
at present from arriving at it. 

The following table, founded on experience, may 
serve as a proof of the relative duration of human life 
at present. 

Of a hundred men who are born, 

50 die before the 10th year, 

20 between 10 and 20 

10 20 " 30 

6 " 30 " 40 

5 " 40 " 50 

3 " 50 " 60 

Therefore, 6 only live to be above the age of 60. 
Haller, who collected the greatest number of instances 
respecting the age of man, found the relative duration 
of life to be in the following proportion : 

Of men who lived from 100 to 110 years the in- 
stances have been 1000 

110 to 120 60 

120 "130 29 

130 "140 15 

140 " 150 6 

169 1 


More particular examination of human life. Essential definition of 
it. Principal operations on which it depends. Accession from 
without. Assimilation and Animalization. Nutrition and prepa- 
ration of the organized matter. Power and organs consumed by 
life itself. Separation and destruction of exhausted parts. Organs 
necessary for life. History of life. Causes of the long duration 
of the life of man. Influence of reason and the higher powers of 
thought. Answer to the question, Why, among men who are more 
fitted for long life than animals, mortality, however, should be 
greater ? 

WE now come to our principal object, the application 
of the foregoing premises to the prolongation of human 
life. But before we can be able to accomplish this 
point, we must first thoroughly examine the following 
questions : In what does the life of man properly con- 
sist ? On what organs, powers, and disposition of parts 
does this important operation, and the duration of it, 
depend ? In what does it essentially differ from the 
life of other creatures and beings ? 

Man, without doubt, is the highest link, the crown of 
the visible creation ; the last, the most complete, and 
the best finished production of the plastic power of Na- 
ture ; the highest degree of its self-representation which 
our eyes are capable of seeing, or our senses of com- 
prehending. With him our sublunary prospect is closed ; 
he is the extreme point with which and in which the 
sensible world borders on a higher spiritual world. 


The organization of man is, as it were, a magic band, 
by which two worlds of a totally different nature are 
connected and conjoined ; an eternally incomprehensi- 
ble wonder, by which he becomes, at the same time, an 
inhabitant of these two worlds, the material and the in- 

One may, with propriety, consider man as a compen- 
dium of Nature ; as a masterpiece of conformation, in 
which all the active powers scattered throughout the 
rest of Nature, all kinds of organs and forms of life, are 
united in one whole, act in concert, and, by these means, 
make him, in the strictest sense, a little world ; a copy 
and epitome of the greater, as he was so often called by 
the ancient philosophers. 

His life is the most expanded ; his organization the 
most delicate and best finished; his juices and compo- 
nent parts the most ennobled and best prepared ; and 
his intensive life and self-consumption are, therefore, the 
strongest. He has, consequently, more points of con- 
tact with the whole of Nature by which he is sur- 
rounded, and likewise more wants ; but he has, also, a 
richer and more perfect restoration than any other being. 

The inanimate mechanical and chemical powers of 
Nature ; the organic or living powers ; and that spark 
of divine power, the power of thought, are here 
united and blended together, in the most wonderful 
manner, to form that godlike phenomenon which we call 
the life of man. 

Let us now take a short view of the essence and me- 
chanism of this operation, as far as they can be dis- 

The life of man, considered in a physical view, is 


nothing else than an incessant ceasing and being ; a 
continual change of destruction and restoration ; an 
everlasting contest of chemical, decomposing powers, 
with all the combining and creative vital powers. New 
component parts are every moment collected from the 
whole of nature that surrounds us ; called to life from 
an inanimate state, and transferred from the chemical 
to the organic living world ; and from these heteroge- 
neous particles the plastic vital power produces a new 
uniform mass, which, in every point, is stamped with 
the character of life. But, in the same unceasing man- 
ner, the exhausted, worn-out, and corrupted component 
parts, when their combination is dissolved, become sub- 
ject again to the mechanical and chemical powers, 
which are in continual contest with the living powers ; 
return from the organic to the chemical world ; and 
again become a part of inanimate nature in general, 
from which they had been separated for a short time. 
This uninterrupted business is the work of the vital 
power ever active within us ; and is, consequently, at- 
tended with an incessant exertion of that power, which 
is an important part of vital operation. Life, there- 
fore, is a continual receiving, appropriation, and giv- 
ing back ; an incessant mixture of death and new cre- 

What then, in a common sense, we call the life of a 
creature, considered as a representation, is nothing else 
than a mere phenomenon, which has nothing peculiar 
or self-sub^istent but the active spiritual power which 
forms the ground of it, and which binds and regulates 
the whole. All the rest is only appearance ; a grand 
spectacle continued, where the thing represented does 


not remain the same a moment, but is incessantly 
changing ; where the whole duration, form, and figure 
of the representation depend, in a particular manner, on 
the matter employed, which is always varying, and on 
the manner in which it is used ; and the whole phenom- 
enon can exist no longer than the continued influx from 
without, which supplies nourishment for the process. 
Its analogy with a flame is, therefore, very great ; only 
that the latter is merely a chemical, and life a chemico- 
animal process, a chemico-animal flame. 

The life of man then, according to its nature, depends 
on the following grand operations : 

I. Accession and reception of vital nourishment from 

By nourishment is here meant not merely what we 
call food and drink, but much rather that influx, from 
the atmosphere, of subtle, spiritual, vital nourishment, 
which seems in a particular manner to contribute to- 
wards the support of the vital power, especially as the 
former coarse nourishing substances serve more for 
supporting and repairing the matter of the body and of 
its organs ; in a word, not that alone which passes 
through the mouth and the stomach, since our lungs and 
skin receive an abundance of vital nourishment, and, 
for spiritual support, are of much greater importance 
than the stomach. 

II. Appropriation, assimilation^ and animalization ; 
transition from the chemical to the organic world, 
through the influence of the vital power. 

Every thing that enters our bodies must first obtain 
the character of life before it can be called ours. All 
component parts, nay, the most subtle agents of Nature, 


which flow into us, must be animalized ; that : is to say, 
be so modified and combined, in a totally new manner, 
by the help of the vital power, that they no longer act 
according to the laws of inanimate and chemical nature, 
but according to the peculiar laws of organic life, and 
support themselves in opposition to others. In short, 
as component parts of a living body, they cannot be 
considered singly, but always as compounded according 
to their proper nature and the laws of the vital power. 
Every thing in us, even chemical and mechanical pow- 
ers, is, therefore, animalized ; and this, for example, is 
the case with electricity, and oxygen or vital air. As 
goon as they are made component parts of a living 
body, they become compounded nature (animalized 
electricity, animalized oxygen,) and cannot be consid- 
ered merely according to the laws and influence which 
they had in common nature, but as subject to, and act- 
ing under specific organic laws. These observations 
are applicable not only to oxygen, but also to other new 
chemical discoveries. But we must beware of ascrib- 
ing to them the same effects in the vital combination of 
our bodies, as those which we perceive them to have in 
the atmosphere ; for they act according to different and 
specific laws. This observation, in my opinion, cannot 
be too often repeated ; and it alone may guard us from 
error in the highly important application of the princi- 
ples of chemistry to organic life. We, without doubt, 
have these chemical powers and agencies within us, and 
a knowledge of them is indispensably necessary ; but 
their method of operating in our bodies is modified in 
another manner, as they find themselves in a woild 
altogether different. 


This important business of assimilation and animali- 
zation is the employment, first of the absorbing and 
glandular system, in its widest latitude ; not merely of 
the lacteal vessels, but also of the absorbing vessels of 
the skin and the lungs, which may be called the vesti- 
bule, through which every thing that is to form a part 
of us must pass ; and, secondly, of the system of circu- 
lation, by which the component parts are prepared and 
brought to organic perfection. 

III. Nutrition ; configuration of the animalized 
component parts ; farther ennobling of them. 

The component parts, fully animalized, are now in- 
corporated and changed into organs ; and this opera- 
tion is the business of the plastic power. By the pre- 
paration of the finer and more perfect secreting vessels, 
these organized component parts are brought to their 
highest degree of purification and refinement ; through 
the brain as nervous fluid, and through the organic sys- 
tem as organic juices, both of which are a combination 
of the purest organic matter, with a rich abundance of 
vital power. 

IV. Self-consumption of the organs and poioers by 
vital exertion. 

Active life itself is an incessant exertion of agency 
and power ; and, consequently, attended with a contin- 
ual waste of power and consumption of the organs. 
Every thing in which the power shows itself as an 
agent, and active, is exertion ; for no vital exertion, not 
even the smallest, can be made without excitation and 
reaction of the power. This is a law of organic nature. 
The voluntary and insensible internal movements, there- 
fore, of circulation, chylification, assimilation, and secre- 


tion, as well as voluntary movements, and those pro- 
duced by the operations of the mind, are continual 
exertions of power, and are incessantly consuming both 
the powers and the organs. 

This part of life is of the utmost importance in re- 
gard to its duration and condition. The stronger vital 
consumption is, the speedier life will be wasted, and the 
shorter must be its duration ; but if it be too weak, the 
consequence then is too seldom a change of component 
parts, imperfect restoration, and a bad habit of body. 

V. Separation and new acquisition of component 
parts ; transition of them from the organic to the chemi- 
cal world, and their union again ivith inanimate nature 
in general. 

The component parts which have been used, and 
which can no longer be retained in this combination, 
again separate themselves from it. They lose the in- 
fluence of the vital power, and begin to be decomposed, 
to fly off, and to be once more united according to the 
pure chemical laws of Nature. All our excretions, 
therefore, carry with them the most evident traces of 
decomposition, a process merely chemical, which, as 
such, is never possible, in a state of real life. The 
function of discharging these parts from the body is 
committed to the organs of secretion and excretion, 
which operate with continual activity ; the intestines, 
kidneys, liver, and, in particular, the whole surface of 
the skin and lungs. These perform real chemico-ani- 
mal operations ; the removal of the parts is effected by 
the vital power, but the productions are entirely chem- 

These grand operations constitute life in general, and 


at every moment ; for they are continually united, con- 
tinually present, and < inseparable from the vital opera- 

The organs which belong to life have in part been 
already mentioned. In the present point of view they 
may be most conveniently divided into three classes : 
Those which receive and prepare ; those which evacuate ; 
and those which keep these contrary movements, as well 
as the whole internal economy, in equipoise and order. 
Many thousands of greater or smaller organs are con- 
tinually employed in separating and throwing off the 
particles which have been exhausted and corrupted by 
the internal consumption. Besides the evacuating ducts, 
properly so-called, the whole surface of the skin and 
lungs is covered with myriads of secreting organs in 
continual activity. Equally numerous and various are 
the passages of the second class, those of restoration. 
It is not sufficient that the decrease of the coarser parts 
should be repaired from the nourishment by means of 
the organs of digestion ; the lungs, the organs of respi- 
ration, are also continually employed to draw in, from 
the atmosphere, nourishment, vital heat, and vital power. 
The heart, and the circulation of the blood, which is de- 
pendent on it, serve to regulate their movements ; to 
diffuse to all points the received heat and nourishment ; 
and to drive off, through these passages of excretion, 
those particles which have been used and exhausted. 
All these operations are assisted by the influence of the 
mental powers and their organs, which are the most 
perfect in man. This, indeed, increases intensive life 
and self-consumption, but at the same time it is a highly 


important means of restoration, of which more imper- 
fect beings are destitute. 

One may form some idea of the extraordinary self- 
consumption of the human body, when one reflects that 
the pulsation of the heart, and the motion of the blood 
connected with it, take place 100,000 times every day ; 
that is to say, the heart and all the arteries are con- 
tracted 100,000 times daily, with such force as is able 
to keep a resistance of from fifty to sixty pounds of 
blood in continual movement. What clock, what ma- 
chine of the hardest iron, would not by such use be in 
a short time worn out ? If we add to this the almost 
equally incessant muscular motion of our bodies, which 
must occasion a much greater wasting, as these parts 
consist more of tender gelatinous particles, we may then 
have a pretty just conception with what loss of sub- 
stance a walk, for example of ten miles, or a rapid 
journey of thirty, must be attended. And not only 
soft and fluid parts, but even the hardest, are gradually 
worn out by continual use. This may be clearly per- 
ceived in the teeth, which are evidently destroyed by 
long use, and which, on the other hand, by being not 
used, that is, not exposed to antagonists, become exceed- 
ingly long. It is proved that, in this manner, we should 
be very soon destroyed were there no reparation ; and 
it has been estimated, with great probability, that every 
three months our bodies are no longer the same, but 
consist of entirely new particles. 

But equally wonderful and extraordinary is the con- 
tinual reparation of those parts which have been lost. 
This may be readily comprehended ; because, notwith- 


standing the incessant loss which we sustain, our mass 
still continues the same. The fluid parts, however, 
regenerate themselves soonest; and experience has 
taught us, that the greatest loss of blood may be again 
repaired in fourteen days. The solid parts reproduce 
themselves by the same power and mechanism as are 
employed in their first creation ; the gelatinous nourish- 
ing principle is conveyed by circulation to every part 
of the body, and is organized according to the plastic 
laws of the different parts. The bones even which are 
the hardest become regenerated, as is proved in the 
experiment with madder, by the use of which the bones 
in a short time become red. Whole bones lost or 
decayed can renew themselves also; and one finds 
sometimes with astonishment, in pieces of ivory, the 
hardest animal body, leaden bullets, which must have 
been lodged in them by a shot, and which are entirely 
surrounded with solid bone.* 

* The fact is true, but the explanation removes the wonder. 
That a bullet should perforate solid ivory, and that the vacuity 
caused by its passage should close up and become firm and solid 
is, of course, impossible. The explanation of the phenomenon 
is as follows : The tusk of the elephant continues to grow as 
long as the animal lives ; for this purpose it is furnished with a 
permanent producing organ, or pulp, which occupies the root of 
the tusk. The pulp is conical in shape, and, as it is constantly 
engaged in forming successive layers of ivory, the tooth is grad- 
ually pushed forwards, in other words, it grows. Now, if a bullet 
enter the substance of this pulp it will, in time, by a common 
process of expulsion of foreign bodies, reach the surface of the 
pulp ; and, when that is effected, the next layer of ivory formed 
by the pulp will be deposited between the pulp and the bullet ; 
so that now the bullet is not only excluded from the pulp, but 


The usual progress or history of human life is, in a 
few words, as follows : 

The heart, the grand source of all vital motion as 
well as vital diffusion, and the grand principle of the 
excreting as well as renovating operations, becomes 
always smaller in proportion to the increase of age ; so 
that, at length, it occupies an eighth part of the space 
which it did in the beginning of life.* Its substance 
also becomes always thicker and harder ; and its irrita- 
bility becomes in the same proportion less. The active 
powers then decrease more and more every year ; and 
the retarding powers, on the other hand, increase. The 
same thing takes place in the whole vascular system, 
and the organs of motion. All the vessels become 
gradually harder, narrower, more shrivelled, and unfit 

the pulp has covered it over with a layer of ivory, and as layer 
after layer of new ivory is formed, the bullet becomes more and 
more deeply buried, more and more removed from the pulp, and 
eventually may be found in the solid substance of the ivory 
several inches, or even feet, distant from its original bed. 

* Hufeland must have meant " an eighth less space ; " he 
could hardly have intended to make a statement so perfectly 
erroneous as the above, upon a point so easily put to the proof. 
The heart, undoubtedly, diminishes a little in size in healthy old 
age ; becomes firmer in texture, and less frequent in its pulsa- 
tions ; adapting itself in fact to the smaller volume of blood con- 
tained within the body; but the amount of diminution is very 
trifling. In a preceding page (106), the author ridicules, very 
justly, the hypothesis of the ancient Egyptians concerning the 
decrease of the heart ; and in the examination of Thomas Parr, 
to which lie also refers (p. 87), the heart, so far from being 
diminished in size, was found to be "great, thick, fibrous, and 
fat." EDITOR. 


for use ; the arteries are ossified and a great many of 
the finer vessels are entirely closed up. 

The following, therefore, are the unavoidable conse- 
quences : 

1st. By this closing up and becoming shrivelled, the 
most important and finest organs of vital regeneration, 
the passages for assimilation and external accession, the 
lungs, skin, absorbing and lacteal vessels become de- 
ranged ; and, consequently, the addition of nourishing 
and enlivening component parts from without is ren- 
dered weaker. Nourishment can neither be received 
in such quantity, nor be prepared and diffused so well 
as before. 

2nd. By this increasing hardness and aridity of the 
vessels they lose more and more their power of move- 
ment and sensation. Irritability and sensibility decrease 
always in the same proportion as the former increase ; 
and the active and spontaneous powers within us always 
give more place to the destructive, mechanical, and 
chemical powers. 

3rd. By the decrease of the motive power, and the 
closing up of innumerable vessels, excretion, the most 
indispensable cause of our continual purification, and of 
the removal of corrupt particles, principally suffers. 
The skin, its most important organ, becomes with 
years always closer, more impenetrable, and less useful. 
This is the case also with the kidneys, the pores of the 
intestines, and the lungs. The juices, therefore, in old 
age, must be always more impure, more acrid, tougher, 
and more impregnated with earthy particles. Earth, 
the great enemy of vital motion, acquires in our bodies, 
by these means, a preponderance; and thus, with a 


living body, we insensibly approach our final destina- 
tion : " Return to the earth from which thou wast 
taken ! " 

In this manner does life bring on a cessation of life, 
that is, natural death ; and its progress is as follows : 

The powers subject to the will first decrease, and 
then the spontaneous and proper vital movements. The 
heart can no longer force the blood to the extremities ; 
pulsation and heat leave the feet and hands ; but the 
blood is still kept in motion from the heart and larger 
vessels, and thus the vital flame, though weak, is for 
some time preserved. At length, the heart has not 
strength to press the blood through the lungs. Nature 
now employs all her power to invigorate respiration, 
and by these means to give some passage to the blood. 
This power, at last, is exhausted ; the left ventricle of 
the heart, consequently, receives no more blood, and is 
no longer irritated, and continues at rest. The right 
still receives a little transmitted to it from parts already 
half dead ; but these parts soon become perfectly cold ; 
the juices* curdle ; the heart receives heat no more, all 
its motion ceases, and death is complete. 

Before I proceed further I must examine some prob- 
lematical circumstances, which present themselves in 
the course of every research into the duration of human 
life, and which are deserving of particular attention. 

The first problem is : How is it possible that man, 
whose organization is the most delicate and most com- 
plex, whose self-consumption is the most rapid, and 
whose duration of life ought consequently to be the 
shortest, should, however, exceed so evidently, in duration 
of life, all classes of the more perfect animals, which 


have the same size, the same organization) and the same 
place in the scale of creation ? 

It is well known that the more imperfect the organi- 
zation, the greater is the duration of life, or at least the 
vital tenacity. Man, as the most perfect of all 
creatures, ought consequently, in this respect, to be far 
inferior to others. Besides, it appears from the forego- 
ing research, that the duration of life of an animal will 
be shorter the more numerous its wants are for support- 
ing that life. Of these, man without doubt has the 
greatest number, and this is a new ground for a shorter 
duration. It has been likewise shown already that, 
among animals, the highest degree of self-consumption 
is the process of generation, and that it shortens in a 
very sensible manner their duration of life. In this 
the perfection of man is remarkably apparent ; and ii 
him there is also a new kind of generation, the spiritual, 
or the business of thinking; and his duration must 
thereby suffer still more. 

It may be asked, then, by what means has man such 
a superiority in regard to the duration of life ? 

In my opinion, the question may be answered from 
the following grounds : 

I. The texture of the whole cellular membrane is 
much softer and tenderer in man than in animals of the 
same class. Even the so-called nervous coat of an 
intestine is, in a dog, much harder, and cannot be 
so inflated as that of a man. The veins also, the bones, 
and the brain, are, in animals, much more solid, and 
abound with a greater quantity of earth. Now, I have 
before shown that too great a degree of hardness or 
brittleness in the organs is prejudicial to duration of 


life, because the organs thereby lose sooner their plia- 
bility and fitness for use ; and because that stiffness and 
aridity which bring on old age, and at length a com- 
plete stoppage of the whole machinery, are thus 
hastened ; man, consequently, must have old age later, 
and a more extensive period of life. 

II. Man grows more slowly ; attains later to matu- 
rity ; all his powers are longer in expanding ; and I 
have before shown, that the existence of a creature is 
lengthened in proportion to the time required for its 

III. Sleep, the greatest means of vital retardation 
and support, is in man more peculiarly regular and 

IV. The perfect organization of the soul,* the fac- 
ulty of thinking, that is, reason, makes in man a very 
great difference. 

This higher and divine power, which exists in man 
alone, has the most visible influence, not only on his 
character in general, but also on the perfection and 
duration of his life ; and in the following manner : 

1st. It is perfectly natural that the sum of the active 

* I hope my readers will not here misunderstand my mean- 
ing, and imagine that I reckon the soul to be a part, a produc- 
tion, or property of the body. This is by no means the case. 
The soul, in my opinion, is something distinct from the body ; a 
being of a totally different, more exalted, intellectual world ; but 
in this sublunary combination, and to be a human soul, it must 
have organs to fit it not only for action, but also for sensation, 
and even for the higher functions of thinking and combining 
ideas. The first cause of thought is, therefore, spiritual ; but the 
business of thinking itself, as carried on in this mortal machine, is 


vital powers within us should be increased by the 
assistance of this most pure and divine power. 

2d. Man, by the most refined and most perfect 
organization of the brain, acquires an entirely new 
organ of restoration peculiar to himself; or rather, his 
whole vital capacity is thereby increased. 

3d. By this highly perfect power of the soul, man 
enters into connection with an entirely new world 
the spiritual ; which is concealed from the rest of the 
creation. It gives him points of contact altogether 
new new influences, and a new element. Might not 
one in this respect call man an amphibious being (par- 
don the expression) of a higher kind, for he is a being 
who lives at the same time in two worlds, the material 
and the intellectual; and apply to him what I have 
shown from experience, respecting amphibious animals, 
that existence in two worlds at the same time prolongs 
life ? What an immense ocean of spiritual nourishment 
and spiritual influences is opened to us by this higher 
and more perfect organization. An entirely new class 
of means to nourish and excite the vital power, pecu- 
liar to man alone, here presents itself. I mean the 
more refined mental and more exalted moral sensations 
and affections. I shall, on this occasion, mention .only 
the enjoyment and comfort which lie in music ; the art 
of painting, and the enchantments of poetry, and the 
imagination ; the pleasure which attends the investiga- 
tion of truth or a new discovery ; the rich source of 
happiness that may be found in the idea of futurity ; in 
the power of anticipating it, and of living, through hope, 
when the scenes now present shall be no more. What 
comfort, what unshaken firmness may we not acquire 


from the single idea and belief of immortality. In short, 
the circle of human life is hereby extended in an aston- 
ishing manner ; and man actually derives his vital sub- 
sistence from two worlds at the same time, the material 
and the immaterial, the present and the future. His 
duration of life must, therefore, necessarily be a gainer. 

4th. The more perfect powers of the soul contribute 
also so far to the support and prolongation of life, that 
man thereby is made a partaker of reason, which enables 
him to regulate his conduct in all things ; which mode- 
rates instinct, a faculty merely animal, as well as the 
furious passions, and the rapid consumption connected 
with them ; and which, by these means, is able to pre- 
serve him in that middle state which we have already 
shown to be so necessary for long life. 

In short, man evidently has more spiritual part than 
was requisite for him in the present world; and this 
superabundance of spiritual power carries with it, as it 
were, the bodily. It is the bodily only, which is sub- 
ject to wasting, and to death. 

I cannot here omit to remark, how apparently the 
moral object, the higher destination of man, is interwo- 
ven with his physical existence : and how reason and 
the t higher powers of thought, which properly render 
him a man, display not only his moral, but his physical 
perfection ; consequently, a proper cultivation of his 
spiritual powers, particularly the moral, makes him, 
beyond all dispute, more perfect, not only morally, but 
also physically ; and, as we shall have occasion to see 
hereafter, increases his vital capacity and vital dura- 
tion. The man merely savage sinks, in regard to 
duration of life, to the level of the inferior animals, 


with which he is on an equality as to size and strength ; 
while, on the other hand, the weakest man, by this 
spiritual subsistence, can often prolong his life far 
beyond that of the strongest animal. 

From the same principles we can resolve also the 
second problem : How comes it that among men, whose 
duration of life so far exceeds that of animals, and 
who, as experience shows, can live to an extraordinary 
age, so few attain to their real term of existence, and 
that the greater part of them die before the time ; or, in 
other words, that where the longest duration is possible, 
there mortality is the greatest. 

The great softness and tenderness of the organs, 
which render man more capable of long duration, 
expose his life also to more dangers, to more interrup- 
tions, to more derangements, and to more injuries. 

Besides, the more points of contact he has with the 
whole of surrounding Nature, he is rendered the more 
susceptible of a multitude of prejudicial influences 
which a coarser organization does not feel. The grati- 
fication of his multiplied wants multiplies his dangers. 

Even the spiritual life is attended with its peculiar 
poisons and dangers. What knows an animal of de- 
luded hope, disappointed ambition, slighted love, care, 
repentance, or despair? And how destructive and 
pernicious to the life of man are these poisons of the 

Lastly, one main point is, that man, though organ- 
ized for a reasonable being, is, however, at liberty to use 
his reason or not; animals, instead of reason, have 
instinct ; and, at the same time, are far more insensible 
and callous in regard to destructive impressions. 


Instinct teaches them to use that which is good for 
them, and to shun that which hurts them. It tells them, 
when they have enough, when they require rest, when 
they are indisposed. Instinct, without the help of regi- 
men, secures them from intemperance and dissipation. 
Among men, on the other hand, every thing, even what 
concerns medicine, is referred to reason. Man has 
neither instinct to guard against error, nor resolution 
enough to withstand it. All this ought to be supplied 
by reason. If that be wanting, or if he neglect to 
listen to its admonition, he loses his only guide, his 
greatest means of support ; and sinks, physically, not 
only to the level of the brute, but even below it, 
because brutes are indemnified by Nature for the want 
of reason in regard to their vital support. Man, on 
the contrary, without reason, is a prey to every noxious 
influence, and becomes the most perishable and corrup- 
tible being under the sun. The natural want of reason 
is far less prejudicial to the support and duration of life 
than the interrupted exercise of it, where it has been 
bestowed by Nature. But, as Haller, with so much 
truth, says, 

O wretched being, to thy interest blind, 
.In whom the angel and the brute are join'd ! 
God gave thee reason to direct thy choice ; 
Yet thou thy ear turn'st from its friendly voice. 

In this lies the principal cause why among men, who in 
every respect are best fitted for long life, mortality is 

One need not object that this assertion is contradicted 
by many madmen who live to a great age. The first 


thing to be considered here is the species of insanity. 
If it be attended with rage and fury, these certainly 
shorten life very much ; because they are accompanied, 
in the highest degree, with exertion of the powers and 
vital consumption. And the case is the same with the 
deepest melancholy and distress of mind, as these injure 
the noblest organs, and destroy the powers. But in a 
mean state, where reason is not entirely gone, where 
the disorder displays itself by incoherent ideas, and 
false but often very agreeable sports of the imagina- 
tion, there the physical use of reason may continue, 
while the moral is lost. Nay, a man in this state is to 
be considered as one under the influence of a pleasant 
dream, on whom a multitude of wants, cares, disagree- 
able and life-shortening impressions, and even physical 
causes of disease, as experience shows, produce no 
effect ; who lives happy in his self-created world ; and 
is far less exposed to destruction and vital consumption. 
It is to be observed, in the last place, that when a luna- 
tic is totally deprived of reason, those by whom he is 
attended and taken care of, think for him, and as it were 
lend him their reason. He is therefore supported by 
reason, whether it be his own or that of another. 



Signs of long life in individuals. Sound stomach and organs of 
digestion. Good teeth. Well-organized breast. Heart not too 
irritable. Strong natural power of restoration and healing. Suffi- 
cient quantity and diffusion of the vital power. Good tempera- 
ment. Faultless and well-proportioned make of body. No partic- 
ular weakness of any part. Portrait of a man destined to long 

AFTER explaining these general principles, I can 
now proceed to lay down the special and individual 
grounds of long life, which must exist in the man him- 
self. I shall here, therefore, describe those grand pro- 
perties, and that frame, which, according to experience 
and the foregoing observations, must be possessed by 
every man before he can lay claim to a long existence. 
This sketch may, in some measure, serve as a register 
of the signs of longevity. 

The properties, which may be called the foundations 
of long life in man, are the following : 

I. Above all things, the stomach, and the whole sys- 
tem of digestion, must be sound and well formed. It is 
incredible of what importance this most powerful of all 
the rulers in the animal kingdom is, in the above 
respect ; and one may justly affirm, that, without a good 
stomach, it is impossible to attain to a great age.* 

* In a good stomach we have the secret of Thomas Parr's 
great age ; in the report of his examination after death, it is 


The stomach, in two respects, is the foundation of 
long life. First, as it is the principal and most impor- 
tant organ of the restoration of our nature ; the door 
through which every thing that is to form a part of us 
must enter ; and the first vessel on the good or bad con- 
dition of which, not only the quantity, but also the qual- 
ity of the addition made to our bodies must depend. 
Secondly, because by the state of the stomach, the effect 
even which the passions, the causes of disease, and other 
destructive influences, have over our bodies, is modified. 
" He has a good stomach," says the proverb, when one 
wishes to characterize a person to whom neither grief, 
care, nor sorrow, is prejudicial; and certainly in that 
expression there is a great deal of truth. All these 
passions must, in a particular manner, affect the stomach, 
and must be felt by it before they can pass into, or in- 
jure, our physical constitution. A strong robust stomach 
is not susceptible of any impression from them : on the 
other hand, a weak sensible stomach is every moment 
subject to some derangement in its whole frame ; and, 
consequently, the important business of restoration is 
continually interrupted, and carried on in an imperfect 
manner. The case is the same with most of the physi- 
cal causes of disease. The greater part of them make 
their first impression on the stomach : and, therefore, a 
want of digestion is the earliest symptom of illness. It 
is thus the first vessel by which they insinuate them- 

stated that "his viscera were sound and strong, especially his 
stomach ; and it was observed of him that he used to eat often, 
both by night and by day, taking up with old cheese, milk, coarse 
bread, small beer, and whey ; and what is most remarkable, he 
ate at midnight, a little before he died." EDITOR. 


selves into our bodies, and disturb the whole economy. 
Besides, it is a principal organ, on which the equilib- 
rium of the nervous motions, and in particular their 
tendency to the periphery, depends. If it be power- 
ful and active, morbid irritations cannot so easily fix 
themselves : they are removed and driven off' through 
the skin, before they effect a real derangement of the 
whole system ; that is to say, before they bring on 

A good stomach may be known two ways ; not merely 
by an excellent appetite, for that may be the conse- 
quence of any stimulus ; but, in particular, by an easy 
and perfect digestion. Whoever feels that he has a 
stomach, cannot have a good one. One must not be sen- 
sible that one has eaten ; must not be drowsy, dejected, 
or uneasy after meals ; must have no phlegm in the 
throat in the morning ; and the evacuations must be 
regular and well concocted. 

We are taught, by experience, that all those who at- 
tained to a very great age had a good appetite, which 
they retained to the last. 

For good digestion, good teeth are extremely neces- 
sary ; and one, therefore, may consider them among the 
essential properties requisite for long life, and in two 
points of view. First, good and strong teeth are al- 
ways a sign of a sound, strong constitution, and good 
juices. Those who lose their teeth early, have, in a 
certain measure, taken possession of the other world 
with a part of their bodies. Secondly, the teeth are 
a great help to digestion, and consequently to resto- 

II. A well-organized breast and organs of respira- 


tion. These may be known by a broad, full chest ; the 
power of keeping in one's breath for a long time ; ;i 
strong voice, and by being seldom subject to a cough. 
Breathing is one of the most incessant and necessary 
of the vital operations, the means of the most indis- 
pensable, spiritual restoration ; and, at the same time, 
the cause by which the blood is continually freed from 
a multitude of corrupted particles. Those in whom 
these organs are well formed, possess the greatest 
assurance of longevity ; arid for this reason, because 
an important passage, by which death and the causes 
of destruction might insinuate themselves, is fully se- 
cured. The breast is among the principal atria 
mortis,* one of those parts of which death first lays 

I If. A heart not too irritable. We have alrea<! 
that a principal cause of our internal consumption, or 
spontaneous wasting, lies in the continual circulation of 
the blood. He who has a hundred pulsations in a 
minute, must be wasted far more speedily than he who 
has only fifty. Those, therefore, whose pulse is always 
quick, and in whom every trifling agitation of the mind, 
Or every additional drop of wine?, increases the motion 
of the heart, are unfortunate candidates for longevity, 
since their whole life is a continual fever; and the pro- 
longation of it is thereby counteracted in a double 
manner, partly by the speedier waiting connected with 
it, and partly because restoration is impeded by nothing 
go much as by an inee.s.-.'intly accelerated circulation. 
A certain decree of rest is absolutely necessary, that 
the nourishing particles may settle, and be converted 
* Entrance halls of death. EDITOR. 


into the substance of our bodies. Such people, also, 
will never become corpulent. 

A slow, uniform pulse is, therefore, a strong sign of 
Jong life, arid a great means to promote it. 

IV. A sufficient quantity and diffusion of the vital 
power. A good temperament. Calmness, order, and 
harmony in all the internal operations and movements, 
are of the utmost importance for supporting and pro- 
longing life ; but these, in a particular manner, depend 
on a proper state of the general irritability and sensi- 
bility of the body ; and the latter qualities must be 
neither too strong nor too weak, and be uniformly dif- 
fused, so that no part may have too great or too small 
a proportion. A certain degree of insensibility, a small 
mixture of phlegm, are also ingredients highly neces- 
sary for prolonging the duration of life ; as they lessen, 
at the same time, self-consumption, favor a far more 
perfect restoration, and contribute most effectually to 
preserve our existence. A good temperament, there- 
fore, may so far be the foundation of a long life. The 
best is the sanguine, tempered with a little of the 
phlegmatic. This produces a serene, cheerful mind, 
moderate passions, undaunted courage, and, in short, 
that state of soul which is most fitted for longevity. 
The cause of this disposition is generally an abundance 
of the vital power. And as Kant has already proved 
that such a mixture of temperament is the properest 
for attaining to moral perfection, I am of opinion that 
one may reckon it among the best gifts of heaven. 

V. A strong natural power of restoration and healing 
by which all those losses which we daily sustain are not 
only repaired, but repaired well. This depends, ac- 


cording to the above principles, on a good digestion, 
and a calm, uniform circulation of the blood. To these 
may be also added a perfect and vigorous activity of 
the absorbing vessels (the lymphatic system), and the 
good condition and regular operation of the organs of 
secretion. The effect of the former is, that the nour- 
ishing substances pass easily into our bodies, and are 
enabled to reach the places of their destination ; by the 
latter, they are completely freed from all extraneous 
and pernicious mixture, and enter us perfectly pure. 
And this properly gives an idea of the most complete 

It is incredible how much this quality contributes 
to the support of life. In a man who possesses it, 
consumption may be exceedingly strong without his 
sustaining much loss, as it is again repaired with the 
utmost speed. We have, therefore, instances of men 
who, even amidst a life of debauchery and fatigue, be- 
came very old : and thus, for example, could a Duke de 
Richelieu and a Louis XV. attain to a great age. 

A- strong natural power of healing must also be united 
with that of restoration ; or, in oilier words, that fac- 
ulty of Nature by which it assists itself easily in cases 
of derangement and interruption, keeps back and re- 
moves the causes of disease, and favors the healing of 
wounds. There is an astonishing power of this kind 
in our bodies, as is shown by the example of savages, 
who are scarcely subject to any diseases, and among 
whom the most dreadful wounds heal up entirely of 

VI. An uniform and faultless conformation of the 
ivhole body. Without uniformity of structure there can 


be no uniformity of powers and motion, and without 
these it is impossible to become old. Besides, an im- 
perfect structure gives an easy opportunity for the rise 
of local diseases which may bring on death. One will 
not, therefore, find that an overgrown person ever at- 
tained to a very great age. 

VII. No part, no intestine must have a great degree 
of weakness, otherwise such a part may serve to give a 
ready admission to the causes of disease, to the first 
seeds of some disorder or derangement, and become, as 
it were,- the atrium mortis. Even where the organiza- 
tion is very good and perfect, this may be a secret 
enemy, from which destruction may be afterwards con- 
veyed to the whole body. 

VIII. The texture of the organization must be of a 
mean quality ; strong and durable, but not too dry or 
rigid. We have already seen, that, through all the 
classes of organized beings, too great aridity or hard- 
ness is prejudicial to the duration of life. Among men 
it must be so in the highest degree ; because their 
organization, according to their destination, is the ten- 
derest of all, and, by a superfluity of earthy particles, 
may be soonest rendered useless. These are injurious 
two ways, partly by bringing on much sooner old age, 
the grand enemy of life ; and partly by making the 
finest organs of restoration much sooner unfit for dis- 
charging their functions. Hardness of organization, in 
order to favor long life, must not consist so much in 
mechanical toughness as in hardness of sensation ; and 
must not be the property so much of a coarser texture 
as of the powers. The quantity of earth must be ex- 
actly so great as to give sufficient elasticity and tone ; 


but neither so large as to prove inflexibility, nor so 
small as to occasion too much facility of movement ; for 
both these are hurtful to duration of life. 

Let me now be permitted to delineate the portrait of 
a man destined to long life. He has a proper and well- 
proportioned stature, without, however, being too tall. 
He is rather of the middle size, and somewhat thick-set. 
His complexion is not too florid : at any rate, too much 
ruddiness in youth is seldom a sign of longevity. His 
hair approaches rather to the fair than the black ; his 
skin is strong, but not rough. His head is not too big ; 
he has large veins at the extremities, and his shoulders 
are rather round than flat. His neck is not too long ; 
his abdomen does not project ; and his hands are large, 
but not too deeply cleft. His foot is rather thick than 
long ; and his legs are firm and round. He has also a 
broad arched chest ; a strong voice, and the faculty of 
retaining his breath for a long time without difficulty. 
In general, there is a complete harmony in all his parts. 
His senses are good, but not too delicate; his pulse is 
slow and regular. 

His stomach is excellent, his appetite good, and his 
digestion easy. The joys of the table are to him of 
importance ; they tune his mind to serenity, and his 
soul partakes in the pleasure which they communicate. 
He does not eat merely for the sake of eating ; but each 
meal is an hour of daily festivity ; a kind of delight 
attended with this advantage, in regard to others, that 
it does not make him poorer, but richer. He eats 
slowly, and has not too much thirst. Too great thirst 
is always a sign of rapid self-consumption. 

In general, he is serene, loquacious, active, suscepti- 


ble of joy, love, and hope ; but insensible to the impres- 
sions of hatred, anger, and avarice. His passions never 
become too violent or destructive. If he ever gives 
way to anger, he experiences rather an useful glow of 
warmth, an artificial and gentle fever, without an over- 
flowing of the bile. He is fond also of employment, 
particularly calm meditation and agreeable speculations ; 
is an optimist, a friend to nature and domestic felicity, 
has no thirst after honors or riches, and banishes all 
thoughts of to-morrow. 


Examinations of various new methods for prolonging life. By vital 
elixirs. Gold tinctures and wonder-working essences. By harden- 
ing the organs. By rest and suspending for a time vital activity. 
By guarding against consumption, and the external causes of 
disease. By fast living. Account of the only methods possible 
by which life can be prolonged. Proper union of the four princi- 
pal indications. Increasing the vital power. Strengthening the 
organs. Moderating vital consumption. Favouring restoration. 
Modification of these methods, according to difference of constitu- 
tion, temperament, age, and climate. 

VARIOUS are the methods and plans which have been 
proposed for the prolongation of life. The old super- 
stitious, astrological, and fantastic methods we have 
already examined and appreciated ; but there are 
others, more modern, which appear to be founded on 
juster principles of life and viial duration, and which 
still deserve some inquiry before we proceed to estab- 
lish that which alone is possible. 

I think I have sufficiently proved, that the prolonga- 
tion of life is possible, four different ways : 
1st. By increasing the vital power itself. 
2nd. By hardening the organs. 
3rd. By retarding vital consumption. 
4th. By facilitating and assisting restoration. 
On each of these ideas have been founded plans and 
methods, which in part are very plausible, and which 


have been much commended ; but they are all deficient, 
chiefly in this, that they regard only one object, and 
neglect the rest. 

Let us, therefore, examine and appreciate some of the 

On the first idea, that of increasing the quantity of 
the vital power, has been, in particular, founded, the 
method of those who prepare and who use gold tinctures, 
astralish salts, the philosopher's stone, and elixirs of 
life. Electricity even, and animal magnetism, belong 
in part to this class. All the Adepts, Rosicrucians, and 
Consorts, and a multitude of people sensible in other 
respects, are fully convinced that their first matter can 
not only convert the rest of the metals into gold, but 
continually supply the lamp of life with new oil. A 
man, therefore, needs only take daily a small quantity 
of such tinctures to recruit the vital power ; and thus, 
according to their theory, we can never be exposed 
to a want or a total loss of it. On this is founded the 
history of the celebrated Gualdus, who by these helps 
lived 300 years, and, as some firmly believe, is alive 

Those, however, who place confidence in these helps 
are miserably deceived. The use of such medicines, 
which are all hot and stimulating, increases naturally 
vital sensation; and such people consider increase of 
vital sensation as a real increase of the vital power, 
without reflecting that a continual increase of the former 
is, by irritation, the surest means of shortening life, and 
in the following manner : 

1st. These, in part, spirituous medicines act as strong 
stimulants, increase the internal motion and intensive 


life, consequently the self-consumption, and occasion a 
more rapid wasting of the organs. Such is the case not 
only with the coarser, but also with the more refined 
substances of this kind. Even electricity, magnetism, 
and the inspiring dephlogisticated air (oxygen gas), 
which one certainly might believe to be the gentlest 
method of instilling vital power, increase self-consump- 
tion in a high degree. This may be very clearly per- 
ceived in asthmatics, who are made to inspire such air. 
Their vital sensation is thereby much exalted, but they 
die sooner. 

2d. These stimulating medicines, as they exalt vital 
sensation and also sensibility, expose one more to exer- 
tion of the powers ; to enjoyment, and to sensual gratifi- 
cations, which some, however, particularly recommend ; 
and by these means increase self-consumption. 

3rd. They contract and desiccate, consequently make 
the finer organs much sooner unfit for use, and bring 
on premature old age, which they ought rather to 
keep off. 

And even supposing that our vital sensations required 
to be so much exalted, neither alembics nor crucibles 
are necessary for that purpose. Nature herself has 
provided for us that most excellent spirit, wine, which 
excels all those prepared by the art of man. If there 
be anything in the world which one may call the prima 
materia, that contains the spirit of the earth in an incor- 
porated form, it is certainly this noble production ; and 
yet we find that too liberal a use of it occasions a 
speedier consumption, brings on old age, and evidently 
shortens the duration of life. 

But it is, indeed, foolish to endeavor to accumulate 


the vital power in a concentrated form within the body, 
and then to imagine that one has accomplished some- 
thing great. Are opportunities of doing this, want- 
ing ? It abounds in every thing near and around us. 
All the nourishment we take, each mouthful of air 
that we breathe, is filled with it. The principal point 
is to preserve our organs in a state capable of absorb- 
ing, receiving, and appropriating it. Let a lifeless 
body be filled ever so much with vital drops, it will 
not begin to revive, because it has no longer organs 
to appropriate them. It is not the want of vital ac- 
cession, but of vital capacity, which in the end makes 
men unfit to live longer. But here Nature herself is 
our guardian ; and, in this respect, all vital drops are 

On the second idea, strengthening the organs, a very 
favorite system, that of hardening, \\&s also been founded. 
It is therefore believed that the more the organs are 
hardened, the longer they must naturally withstand 
consumption and destruction. 

But we have already seen what a great difference 
there is between the mechanism of a thing and its vital 
duration ; and that a certain degree only of solidity is 
favorable to the latter, and that too much is highly 
prejudicial. The essential character of life consists in 
the Uninterrupted and free activity of all the organs, 
and of the circulation of the juices ; and what can be 
more destructive to these, and consequently to the dura- 
tion of life, than too great hardness and rigidity ? Fish 
certainly have the softest and most watery flesh ; yet 
they far exceed, in vital duration, stronger and more 
solid animals. 


The favorite method of hardening, which consists in 
endeavoring, by the continued use of the cold bath ; keep- 
ing the body exposed, almost naked, to the keenest air, 
and the most fatiguing exercise, to make one's self strong 
and indestructible, produces no other effect than that our 
organs become drier, tougher, and more rigid, conse- 
quently much sooner unfit for use; and therefore, instead 
of prolonging life, we bring on premature old age and 
speedier dissolution. 

There is, however, some truth, upon the whole, in this 
method ; and it has proved unsuccessful, because people 
united with it false ideas, and carried it too far. It is 
not so much a hardening of the vessels as of the feel- 
ing, that can contribute to the prolongation of life. 
When one, therefore, employs the hardening method 
so far as to make the vessels strong, but not hard or 
stiff, so that their too great irritability, a principal 
cause of speedy wasting, is blunted or removed, and 
the body rendered thereby, at the same time, less sus- 
ceptible of destructive influences, it may certainly, in 
that case, be of some service in lengthening our exis- 

The third idea, that of retarding vital consumption, is 
highly captivating ; and has been adopted, in particular, 
with great satisfaction, but very improperly employed,, 
by those who are naturally much inclined to indolence 
and ease. To waste the body by labor and exertion is, 
to such people, unpleasant in itself; they are rejoiced, 
therefore, to find it not only disagreeable, but also pre- 
judicial, and to have, in indolence, a grand secret for 
prolonging life, superior to all the arcana of Cagliostro 
and St. Germain. 


Some have even gone still further, and in particular 
Maupertuis, who conceived it might be possible, by a 
complete suspension of vital activity, or an artificial 
apparent death, to check self-consumption entirely, and 
by such pauses, to preserve life for perhaps several 
centuries. He supported his proposition on the life of 
a chicken in the egg, and of insects in their state of 
nymph and chrysalis, which, by the help of cold and 
other means, whereby the animal is kept longer in its 
deathlike sleep, can actually be prolonged. According 
then to these principles, nothing is necessary but to ac- 
quire the art of half-killing one. The same idea 
occurred even to the great Franklin. While in France, 
he received from America a quantity of Madeira wine, 
which had been bottled in Virginia. In some of the 
bottles he found a few dead flies, which he exposed to 
the warm sun, in the month of July ; and in less than 
three hours these apparently dead animals recovered 
life, which had been so long suspended. At first they 
appeared as if convulsed ; they then raised themselves 
on their legs, washed their eyes with their fore feet, 
dressed their wings with those behind, and began in a 
little time to fly about. This acute philosopher pro- 
posed, therefore, the following question : " Since, by 
such a complete suspension of all internal as well as 
external consumption, it is possible to produce a pause 
of life, and at the same time to preserve the vital prin- 
ciple, might not such a process be employed in regard 
to man ? And if that be the case," adds he, like a true 
patriot, "I can imagine no greater pleasure than to 
cause myself to be immersed, along with a few good 
iriends, in Madeira wine, and to be again called to life 


at the end of fifty or more years, by the genial solar 
rays of my native country, only that I may see what 
improvement the State has made, and what changes 
time has brought along with it." 

This proposal, however, vanishes again into nothing 
when we consider the real essence and object of human 
life. What is meant by the life of man ? Not, indeed, 
mere eating drinking, and sleeping, else it would agree 
perfectly with the life of a swine, to which Cicero could 
give no other name than a preventive of corruption. 
The life of man has a higher destination action, 
business, and enjoyment. It is not enough that it be 
present, it must expand, and bring to perfection those 
divine seeds which exist within him ; it must give hap- 
piness to himself and to others. Man must not merely 
fill up a gap in the creation, he must be the lord, the 
ruler, and the benefactor of it. Can one say of a man. 
that he lives, when he spins out life amidst sleep, indo- 
lence, or apparent death ? But what is still more, we 
find here also a new proof in how inseparable a manner 
the moral object is interwoven with his physical appoint- 
rnent arid destination, and how promoting the one con- 
duces to improve the other. Such an unmanly life, as 
it may be properly called, would contribute directly not 
to prolong, but to shorten human existence, and in two 
ways : 

1st. Human life is composed of so tender and delicate 
organs that they very readily become unfit for use by 
rest and inactivity. It is only action and exercise 
which make them useful and durable. Rest and want 
of exercise are their most deadly poison. 

2nd. We have already seen that not merely lessening 


consumption, but promoting restoration also, in a suf- 
ficient degree, is necessary for the prolongation of life. 
But two operations are here requisite : first, perfect 
assimilation of what is useful; and, secondly, excre- 
tion of what is hurtful. The latter can never take 
place without proper activity and motion. What would 
be the consequence of a prolongation of life by means 
of rest and indolence ? The body would be consumed 
very little or not at all, and yet restoration would be 
carried on. A most destructive plethora must thence 
arise, because the body always receives and never 
throws off. And, what is still worse, universal corrup- 
tion, with its train of evils, acrid humors, disease, etc., 
must gain the upper hand, as the secretion of what is 
prejudicial has been stopped. It is very natural, there- 
fore, to suppose that such a body would be much sooner 
destroyed, as experience teaches us. 

3d. With regard to the prolongation of life by a sus- 
pension of the vital activity, during a temporal state of 
apparent death, I shall, in the last place, observe, that 
this idea has been founded on the example of insects, 
tortoises, and other animals, which, as we have before 
seen, can, by such a deathlike sleep, be preserved a 
hundred years and more, and, consequently, far beyond 
the natural term of their existence. 

But, in making such proposals, people do not reflect 
that all those experiments were tried upon very imper- 
fect animals, among which the transition from their 
natural half-animated state to actual torpor is much less 
abrupt than it would be among men, who possess the 
highest degree of vital perfection. And one, in particu- 
lar, must here observe the important difference made 


by the business of respiration. All these animals have 
naturally less need of breathing ; and warmth is less 
necessary to them in order to retain life. Man, on the 
other hand, requires, for the preservation of his life, a 
continual accession of heat and spiritual powers ; in 
short, of the pabulum vitce* which exists in the atmos- 
phere. Such a total suspension of breathing would, by 
an entire loss of internal heat, soon become mortal. 
The more perfect agency of the soul is so interwoven 
with the organization of man, that its influence could 
not be stopped so long without causing the death and 
destruction of the more delicate organs which belong 
to it. 

Others have attempted to prolong life by endeavoring 
to avoid or remove the causes of disease, such as heat 
and cold, certain kinds of food and drink, etc. But this 
method is attended with one disadvantage, which is, 
that we are not able to guard against all these evils ; 
and that we are, therefore, rendered much more sensi- 
ble of those which affect us. The preventing of con- 
sumption externally may also be here included. In 
warm countries, where the heat of the atmosphere 
keeps the skin always open, and makes the evaporation 
of the component parts of our bodies far more constant, 
people find some benefit from rubbing the skin continu- 
ally with ointments and oil, which stop up the pores, 
and prevent the more watery and volatile particles 
from flying off in perspiration. By this process one 
experiences a real sensation of strengthening ; and, in 
such climates, it appears to be necessary to check too 

* Food of life. EDITOR. 


speedy consumption by profuse evaporation. But it is 
certain that it is in warm climates only that it can be 
employed. In our climate, where the atmosphere it- 
self acts as a medium to shut up the pores of the skin, 
we have more need of promoting perspiration than of 
preventing it. 

I must now say a few words respecting an entirely 
new experiment for prolonging vital existence, which 
consists merely in increasing intensive life. On this 
principle the duration of life is determined, not by num- 
ber of days, but by the sum of its use or enjoyment ; 
and it is believed that if one, within a certain period, 
has had twice as much action and enjoyment as another, 
he has lived as much as the other in double the time. 
However much I respect this method in itself, if it con- 
sist in laudable exertion, and be the consequence of a 
mind fertile in action ; and though I am fully convinced 
that, considering the uncertainty of our life, it presents 
an idea highly captivating ; I must confess, that it will 
never obtain its object, and that the principle of it 
appears to be altogether false. As this opinion has 
found so many advocates, I hope I shall be permitted 
to analyze it a little more accurately, and to explain 
the grounds of my assertion. 

All the operations of nature require not only energy 
or intensive life, but also extension or time. Let fruit 
receive twice as much heat and nourishment as it has 
in its natural state, and in half the time it will attain to 
apparent ripeness ; but certainly not to that degree of 
perfection which the same fruit acquires in its natural 
state, with half the intensive activity, in double the time. 

The case is the same with the life of man. We must 


consider it as a whole compounded of various effects ; 
as a grand ripening process, the object of which is to 
give the utmost expansion and perfection possible to 
human nature, and to make it fill up that point which 
it holds in the creation. Now ripening and maturity 
are the produce only of time and experience ; and it is, 
therefore, impossible that a man who has lived thirty 
years, though in that time his action and labour may 
have been doubled, should have attained to the same 
perfection and maturity that are acquired in a period 
of sixty years. Besides, he was perhaps destined to 
be useful in the course of his life to two or three gen- 
erations ; but his prematurity hurries him off before 
he has seen the end of the first. He accomplishes, 
then, neither in regard to himself nor to others, Jie 
object and destination of complete life ; interrupts the 
course of his days ; and remains a more refined suicide. 

In a still worse point of view appear those who en- 
deavour to prolong life by concentrating its enjoyments. 
By these means they may be wasted much sooner ; and 
what is worst of all, they are often punished for their 
folly, because they must lead a life merely intensive 
without any extension ; that is, they must become a 
burden to themselves and to others, or rather they exist 
longer than they live. 

The true art of prolonging human life consists in 
uniting properly, and employing, the before-mentioned 
four principles, or indications, as they are termed by 
physicians ; but in such a manner that none of them be 
sacrificed to the rest, and that one never forget that the 
question is concerning the life of man, which, to deserve 
that name, must consist not merely in existing, but in 


business and enjoyment, and in fulfilling the end of his 
destination. I shall here take a short view of the whole 

I. The sum or fund of the vital power must he suffi- 
ciently supplied and nourished ; yet never to such a 
degree as to occasion too violent exertion of it, but 
only so far as may be necessary for it to perform the 
external and internal functions with proper ease, strength, 
and duration, and to give the component parts and 
juices that organic character which is requisite for 
their destination, and for guarding against chemical cor- 
ruption. This may be done with the greatest cer- 

1st. By sound and powerful generation. 

2d. By pure and wholesome vital nourishment or 
accession from without ; also pure atmospheric air ; 
and good, fresh, well-digested food and drink. 

3d. By a sound and useful state of those organs by 
which every thing added to us from without must be 
assimilated before it can do us good. These essential 
organs are the lungs, stomach, and skin ; on the pre- 
serving of which in a sound state, vital nourishment 
depends in a very particular manner. 

4th. By an uniform diffusion of the power throughout 
the whole body. Every part, every intestine, every 
point of our bodies, must obtain such a quantity of the 
vital power as may be necessary to enable it to dis- 
charge its functions properly. Does any part acquire 
too little, a weakness of it is the consequence ; if it ac- 
quire too much, the consequences are too violent motion, 
irritation, accumulations of it ; and then that harmony, 
the grand pillar of sound life, is, at any rate, always 


destroyed. This uniform distribution of the power may 
be promoted, in particular, by the uniform use and ex- 
ercise of each part and each organ of the body ; by 
bodily motion ; proper gymnastic exercises ; the tepid 
bath, and friction. 

II. A sufficient degree of solidity or hardness must be 
given to the organs or corporeal matter ; but not such as 
to render them actually stiff and rigid, which, instead of 
being beneficial to the body, would be hurtful to it. 

The hardness to which I here allude is of two kinds : 
increased binding and cohesion of the component parts, 
as well as physical solidity of the vessels ; and next, 
hardening the sensation against noxious and morbid 

Sufficient solidity or cohesion of the vessels, which 
physicians call tone, acts in the following manner, in 
regard to the prolongation of life : 

First, as the cohesion of our component parts is 
thereby increased, they cannot be so speedily wasted, 
destroyed, and separated by the vital process ; conse- 
quently the change of the component parts is not so 
rapid : it is not necessary that they should be so often 
renewed ; and the whole intensive life is more slow, 
which is always an advantage in regard to its extension 
and duration. For the better illustration of this sub- 
ject, I shall here only compare the life of a child with 
that of a man. In the former, the power of cohesion, 
the solidity of the vessels are much less ; the connection 
of the component parts is weaker and more lax, it 
wastes away therefore much speedier ; the change of 
its component parts is more rapid ; it must eat more, 
and much oftener ; it must sleep longer, and more fre- 


quently, to renew what has been lost ; and the blood 
must circulate with far greater velocity ; in a word, its 
intensive life and self-consumption are much stronger 
than in a man who has vessels more solid. 

Secondly, as the organs are thereby, in reality, first 
strengthened. The vital power alone supplies no 
strength. To produce what we call strength of the 
organs, and also of the whole system, a sufficient degree 
of the simple power of cohesion must be combined with 
the vital power. This likewise will appear in the 
clearest manner, from the comparison of a child with a 
man. A child is far more abundant in vital power, 
irritability, tendency to growth, and the power of repro- 
duction, than a man ; yet this body, so rich in life, has 
less strength than that of a man, merely because the 
cohesion of the vessels in the child is weaker and more 

Lastly, because the too great morbific or irregular 
irritability, sensibility, and general delicacy of the ves- 
sels, are regulated, moderaied, kept wiihin proper 
bounds, and preserved in good order, by a sufficient 
mixture- of the power of cohesion ; and by these means 
the too strong irritation and consumption of the powi r 
by life is lessened ; the extension and duration of life 
are, consequently, increased ; and this advantage also 
is gained, that external noxious causes of irritation act 
less rapidly, and with less violence. 

By a stronger cohesion, the capacity of the matter 
for receiving vital power seems also to be heightened; 
at any rate, a stronger connection of the vital pow( r 
with the matter is effected. 

The means by which this increased solidity and co- 


Lesion of the vessels can be produced, are as fol- 
lows : 

1st. Exercise, and the use of the muscular powers 
and vessels, both voluntary, by voluntary muscular mo- 
tion, as well as involuntary, for example, of the stomach 
and intestines by suitable stimulants, such as food some- 
what solid or hard ; and of the bloodvessels, by some- 
what stimulating medicines. On each movement of a 
vessel, it contracts ; that is to say, its component parts 
approach each other; and if this be done often, its 
cohesion or tone will be increased. One only must be 
extremely cautious not to occasion too strong an irrita- 
tion, else consumption might be too much increased, 
and the consequences become dangerous. 

2nd. The use of gelatinous, corroborating nourish- 
ment, impregnated with ferruginous particles, wh'ch 
increase this power ; and to avoid too many watery 
substances, which might lessen it. 

3rd. To promote moderate perspiration by friction, 
motion, etc. 

4th. A cool temperature of the atmosphere, and of 
the whole system, a point of the utmost importance. 
Though cold is not a positive strengthener of the vital 
power, yet it increases and strengthens the weak cohe- 
sive power or tone ; corrects too strong exertion of the 
vital power, as well as prevents it from being exhausted ; 
and, in this manner, can be a negative strengthener of 
the vital power itself. Warmth, on the other hand, 
weakens, partly by relaxing the cohesion, and partly 
by exhausting the vital power. 

1 must, however, repeat, in regard to all these means, 
cold, strong substantial nourishment, motion, etc., that 


one must not carry them too far, lest, instead of the 
requisite solidity, too great stiffness or rigidity of the 
vessels should be produced. 

The sensation will be best hardened against the 
causes of disease, if one accustoms oneself to such im- 
pressions, and to sudden changes. 

III. The vital consumption must be so lessened, or 
moderated, that it may not be attended with too speedy 
wasting of the powers and the organs. 

The whole vital operation, as has been already shown, 
consists in action, exertion of the vital power ; and is 
consequently connected, in an inseparable manner, with 
consumption and wasting of that power. This is the 
case, not only in regard to the voluntary, but also the 
involuntary, functions ; not only in the external, but 
also the internal, vital operations ; for they are sup- 
ported by continual irritation and reaction. Neither of 
these, therefore, must be overstrained, if we are desir- 
ous of preventing consumption. 

Among these I reckon, in a particular manner, the 
following irritations and exertions of power : 

1st. Straining the system of the heart and blood, 
with too great quickening of the circulation ; that is, by 
too stimulating, hot nourishment, affections, and feverish 
disorders. Great wine and brandy drinkers, as well as 
passionate people, have a quick accelerated pulse, and 
keep themselves in an incessant artificial fever, by which 
they are as much wasted and consumed as they would 
be by a real fever. 

2d. Too strong or continued straining of the powers 
of thought ; by which, not only the vital power is ex- 
hausted, but the stomach and system of digestion are 


injured, and, consequently, the most important means 
of restoration are weakened. 

3d. Too abundant and too strong irritation and grat- 
ification of the animal passions. These tend as much 
to hasten vital consumption, as straining the powers of 

4th. Too violent and too long continued muscular 
motion. Very great excess, however, is necessary 
before this can be hurtful. 

5th. All strong or long continued excretions, such as 
perspiration, diarrhoea, catarrh, cough, loss of blood, 
etc. These exhaust not only the power, but also the 
matter, and tend to corrupt the quality of the latter. 

6th. All too violent or too long continued causes of 
irritation acting upon us, by which the power is always 
exhausted. The more irritable a life is, the quicker it 
will pass away. To these belong too strong or too 
incessant irritation of the organs of the mind and sensa- 
tion ; passions, excess in wine, brandy, spiceries, and 
seasoning of food. Frequent overloading the stomach 
may be included in the same class ; especially as it for 
the most part renders necessary the use of evacuants 
and purgatives, which, as they weaken, are also preju- 

7th. Diseases with highly increased irritation, parti- 
cularly such as are feverish. 

8th. Heat, when it acts upon us too incessantly and 
with too much strength. Keeping the body too warm, 
therefore, from infancy, is one of the greatest means to 
hasten consumption, and to shorten the duration of 

9th. In the last place, too great a degree of irrita- 


bility and sensibility in the vessels deserves also to be 
inserted in this rubric. The greater these are, the easier 
can any stimulus, even the smallest, excite violent irrita- 
tion, exertion of power, and consequently occasion a waste 
of that power. A man with this faulty constitution is 
sensible of a great many impressions which have no 
effect on common men, and is doubly affected even by 
the most usual accidents of life. His intensive life, of 
course, is infinitely stronger ; but his vital consumption 
must be greatly accelerated. Every thing, therefore, 
which can increase irritability, either moral or physical, 
may be reckoned to belong to those means which hasten 

IV. Restoration of the lost powers and matter must 
be effected easily and completely. For this purpose the 
following things are necessary : 

1st. Soundness, vigor, and activity of those organs 
by which the restorative particles must pass into our 
bodies. This process is, in part, continual and perma- 
nent, as through the lungs ; and partly periodical, as 
through the stomach. To these organs belong the 
lungs, the skin, the stomach, and the intestines. That 
restoration may be performed well, these parts must be 
thoroughly sound, fit for use, and active. They are 
consequently of the utmost importance in prolonging 

2d. Soundness, activity, and vigor of the innumera- 
ble vessels, by which the component parts received 
into our bodies must be assimilated, rendered homoge- 
neous, be brought to perfection, and ennobled. This is 
first, and in a particular manner the function of the 
absorbing or lacteal system, with its multitude of 


glands ; and, secondly, of circulation, or the system of 
the blood, by which organic ennobling is completed. I 
consider the absorbing system, therefore, as one of the 
grand means of restoration. In this respect we must, 
above all things, direct our attention to infancy ; for the 
first nourishment in the tenderest state of childhood, 
the treatment, during the first year of life, determine, 
for the most part, the condition of this system, as it too 
often happens that it is destroyed in the beginning, by 
weak, corrupted, viscid nourishment, and impurities ; 
and an essential foundation is thus laid for a short life. 

3d. A sound state of the nourishment and matter 
from which we are restored. Our food and drink must 
be pure, that is, free from corrupted particles ; abun- 
dant in nutritive principles ; stimulating in a certain 
degree, for that quality is necessary to promote proper 
digestion and the whole vital operation, but combined, 
at the same time, with a sufficient quantity of water or 
of fluids. The last is ah important circumstance, but 
often neglected. Water, if it be not nourishment of 
itself, (though this, by the instance of fishes, worms, 
etc., who may be fed for a long time with water alone, 
seems highly probable,) is at any rate indispensably 
necessary for the business of restoration and nourish- 
ment ; first, because it must be the vehicle for the 
proper nutritive substances, in order that they may be 
sufficiently diifused from the intestines to every point 
of the body ; and, secondly, because this vehicle is abso- 
lutely necessary to produce sufficient secretion and 
evacuation of what is corrupted, and consequently for 
the purification of the body. 

4th. A healthful and proper state of the atmosphere 


in which and on which we live. The air is our pecu- 
liar element ; and, in two points of view, an important 
medium of restoration. First, because it communicates 
to us two of the most spiritual and most necessary com- 
ponent parts of life, oxygen and heat ; and, secondly, 
because it is the most important vehicle for attracting 
from us and absorbing our component particles which 
have become corrupted. It is the principal medium for 
this continual exchange of the finer component parts. 
The far most considerable and important of our excre- 
tions are gaseous ; that is to say, the matter must be 
converted into vapour in order to be expelled. To 
these belong all excretions of the superficies of our 
bodies, the skin, and the lungs. This evaporation de- 
pends not merely on the power and activity of the 
vessels of respiration, but on the quality of the air 
which they draw in. The more it is already loaded 
with component parts, the less new substance can it re- 
ceive ; and, therefore, moist air checks perspiration. 
From these principles we may deduce the following 
conclusions : The atmosphere in which we live must 
contain a sufficient quantity of vital air, but not too 
much, else it might stimulate too violently and hasten 
vital consumption. It must likewise contain as few 
foreign component parts dissolved in it as possible : it 
must also be neither moist, nor rendered impure by 
earthy, .vegetable, or animal particles :* its temperature 

* In defining corrupted air an accurate distinction should be 
made between impure air and saturated air, which in general are 
confounded. Corruption of the air may consist either in too small 
a quantity of oxygen gas, or in the chemical mixture ; and air so 
corrupted may be called impure air, in opposition to pure vital 


must be neither too warm nor too cold ; for, in the 
former case, it exhausts and weakens the power, in the 
latter makes the vessels too stiff and rigid : and it must 
neither in its temperature, mixture, nor pressure, be 
subject to too rapid changes ; for it is a law, fully con- 
firmed by experience, that uniformity in the atmosphere 
and climate is uncommonly favourable to long life. 

5th. A free passage and active organs to promote 
secretion and evacuation of the corrupted component 
particles. Our life consists of a continual change of 
component parts. Were not those which have been 
Exhausted and rendered useless continually separated 
and expelled, it would be impossible that we could ap- 
propriate new ones in sufficient quantity ; and, what is 
still worse, the new addition, by being mixed with those 
particles kept back, would itself acquire the character 
of corruption. Hence, the so-called acridity, viscosity, 
impurity, and putrefaction of the juices, or rather of the 
whole matter of the body. Restoration, therefore, is by 
bad secretion prevented two ways ; partly in the quan- 
tity and partly in the quality. The organs on which 
this secretion and purifying of the body principally de- 
pend are the skin, the kidneys, the liver, the intestines, 
and the lungs. Of these the first is the most important, 
as it is calculated that two thirds of the component parts 
which have been used, evaporate by the insensible per- 
spiration of the skin. 

6th. To stimulate the senses in an agreeable manner, 
and with moderation. Man, in consequence of the su- 

air ; or it may be corrupted by foreign component parts received 
into it, and then it is called saturated. 


periority of his organization, as has been already shown, 
and of his higher physical perfection, is susceptible of 
more refined as well as more exalted impressions ; and, 
consequently, they must have a greater influence on the 
physical state of his life than on animals. By these 
means there is opened for him a new source of restora- 
tion, which is denied to animals ; the enjoyment and 
stimulus of sensual pleasure, when not carried to too 
great a length. 

7th. Putting the mind in an agreeable frame ; joyful 
and moderate affections ; a succession of new, grand 
ideas ; creating, combining, and varying them. These 
more exalted pleasures, exclusively peculiar to man, 
belong to this catalogue of the means which contribute 
to prolong his existence. Hope, love, and joy are there- 
fore happy affections ; and there is nothing which tends 
with so much certainty and so generally to preserve 
life and health as cheerfulness and serenity of mind. 
Such a disposition keeps the vital power in a proper 
uniform state, promotes circulation and digestion, and 
assists, in a very powerful manner, the function of in- 
sensible perspiration. Happy, therefore, even in a 
physical point of view, is that man on whom Heaven 
has bestowed a contented and serene mind, or who, by 
improving and cultivating his moral faculties, has been 
able to procure that blessing. He has within himself 
the noblest and purest balsam of life. 

The principles here laid down contain the funda- 
mental rules on which every rational general plan for 
prolonging life must be founded. But what is necessary 
in regard to every dietetic and medicinal precept is 


necessary here, that, in applying them, regard must be 
had to special cases ; and that, therefore, they must be 
more accurately modified and determined. 

The following circumstances, in particular, are to be 
attended to in the application of them : 

Difference of constitution, in the subjects, in regard to 
their simple component parts and vessels. The drier, 
the harder, and more rigid the state of the body natu- 
rally is, the less need there will be for employing the 
means of the second indication, that is, a proper hard- 
ening ; but the more relaxed .the vessels are by nature, 
the contrary must be the case. 

Further, the different innate temperaments, under 
which I comprehend the different degrees of irritability, 
and their relation to the powers of the soul. The more 
a subject inclines to the phlegmatic temperament, the 
more and the stronger irritants may be employed. A 
degree of irritation, which in a sanguine temperament 
would waste and exhaust, is here beneficial ; necessary 
to promote a sufficient degree of vital operation, and a 
means of restoration. The case is the same with the 
melancholic temperament: it requires more irritation, 
but variegated, of a pleasant nature, and not too vio- 
lent. The more the sanguine temperament prevails, 
the more cautiously and moderately must all stimulants 
as well physical as moral be employed ; and in this 
respect, the choleric, where the smallest stimulus may 
often produce the most violent exertion arid rapid 
wasting, requires the greatest attention. 

The periods of life. Children and young people 
have far more vital power and irritability ; their struc- 
ture is less solid and the change of their component 


parts is more rapid. Much less irritation must, there- 
fore, be here given, because a small irritation excites 
strong reaction. More regard must be proportionally 
paid to restoration and hardening. In old age, on the 
other hand, every thing called irritation may be em- 
ployed in a stronger degree. What in infancy would 
be consumption, is here restoration. Milk is wine for 
children; wine is milk for old people. Old age requires, 
therefore, on account of the great rigidity connected 
with it, not an increase of that quality by the second 
indication, but a lessening of it by means of emollients 
and moistening things, meat-broths, strong soups, and 
the tepid bath. 

Lastly, Climate, also, makes some difference. The 
more southern it is, the greater is the irritability ; the 
stronger continual irritation is, the more rapid will the 
stream of life flow, and the shorter will be its duration. 
Great attention is here necessary that this exhausting 
of the power by too strong irritation, may not be accele- 
rated. In a northern climate, on the other hand, where 
the temperature being cooler concentrates the power 
more, and keeps it together, this is much less to be ap- 



I NOW proceed to the most important part of this 
Treatise, the Practical Art of Prolonging Life ; and I 
can now make known with confidence, and on good 
grounds, those means by which alone prolongation of it 
is possible. If they are not so specious, so boasting, 
and so mysterious as those commonly recommended, 
they have this advantage, that they may be everywhere 
found without expense, nay, that they in part lie within 
ourselves ; that they are perfectly consistent with reason, 
as well as experience ; and that they prolong, not 
merely life, but also the enjoyment of it. In a word, 
according to my idea, they deserve the name of univer- 
sal remedies, much more than all the panaceas of 
quackery and imposture. 

We are continually surrounded by the friends and 
the enemies of life. He who keeps company with its 
friends, will become old ; but he who prefers its ene- 
mies, will shorten his existence. It might be expected 
of every prudent man, that he would prefer the former, 
and be always on his guard against the latter ; but it is 


an unfortunate circumstance that these enemies of life 
are not all public and known. They, in part, carry on 
their attacks secretly and imperceptibly; so that some 
of them assume the mask of life's best friends. It is, 
therefore, difficult to discover them ; and some we even 
harbor within our own bosoms. 

The principal part of this Art, then, will consist in 
being able to distinguish our friends from our enemies, 
and in learning to guard against the latter. In other 
words, the Art of prolonging Life may be divided into 
two parts : 

I. Guarding against the enemies of life, and those 

means which shorten it. 

II. The knowledge and use of those means which 
tend to prolong it. 


ACCORDING to the principles before laid down, the 
Only grounds on which the duration of life depends, it 
will not be difficult to determine in how many different 
ways it may be shortened. 

I 1st. Every thing must shorten it which lessens the 

sum of the vital powers ; 

2nd. Every thing that takes from the organs of life 
their duration and renders them unfit for use ; 
3rd. Every thing that hastens vital consumption ; 
4th. And every thing that prevents restoration. 


Every thing that shortens life may be comprehended 
in these four classes; and we have now a standard by 
which the greater or less mischief, occasioned by their 
influence, can be determined and appreciated. The 
more these four properties are in any thing united, the 
more dangerous and hostile will it be to our vital dura- 
tion ; and the fewer it contains, it will be less so. Nay, 
there are mixed substances which present as it were 
two sides, one friendly, and another hostile ; that is to 
say, which possess one of the above properties, but at 
the same time are more favorable and beneficial to us 
than hurtful. These may form one peculiar class, but 
we shall here, according to their prevailing quality, 
assign them a place, either among those things which 
are friendly, or those which are hostile. 

Between those things which shorten life, there is a 
difference still more important. Some act slowly, suc- 
cessively, and often very imperceptibly. Others, on the 
contrary, violently as well as suddenly ; and these may 
be rather named the destroyers of life. To these belong 
certain diseases, and the various kinds of violent death, 
as they are properly called. The latter, in general, 
are much more dreaded than the former, because their 
effects are more perceptible and more terrible : but I 
can assure my readers, that they are at bottom much 
less dangerous than these secret enemies; for they are 
so open that people can be much sooner on their guard 
against them than against the former, which carry on 
their destructive approaches in private, and daily steal 
from us some part of life without our perceiving it, 
though the loss in the end may amount to a sum truly 


I must here make one melancholy remark, which is, 
that the enemies of our life have, in modern times, 
dreadfully increased ; and that the degree of civilization, 
luxury, refinement, and deviation from nature, in which 
we at present live, by so highly exalting our intensive 
life, tends also to shorten, in the same proportion, our 
existence. We shall find, on close examination, that 
men appear, as it were, to have anxiously studied how 
they might deprive each other of life secretly and im- 
perceptibly, and often in the most ingenious manner 
possible. Much more precaution and attention are, 
therefore, now necessary in order to secure ourselves 
from danger. 



Delicate nursing and treatment in infancy. 

THERE is no surer method of rendering the vital 
thread of a being from its origin short and perishable, 
than by giving it, during the first years of life, which 
may be considered as a continued generation and ex- 
pansion, a very warm, tender, and delicate education ; 
that is, by guarding it from every breath of cool air ; 
burying it for at least a year among pillows and blankets, 
and keeping it like a chicken in a real state of hatching; 
not omitting, at the same time, to stuff it immoderately 
with food ; and, by coffee, chocolate, wine, spice, and 
such like things, (which for children are nothing else 
than poison,) to irritate it beyond measure, and to ren- 
der its whole vital activity too strong and violent. 
By these means its internal consumption is from its 
birth so accelerated, its intensive life is so early exalted, 
and its organs are rendered so weak, tender, and sensi- 
ble, that one may assert that, through two years' treat- 
ment of this kind, an innate vital capacity of sixty 
years may be reduced one half; nay, as experience un- 
fortunately shows, to much less, without reckoning those 
evil accidents and diseases which may besides be the 
consequence. The premature expansion of our organs 
and powers is by nothing so much hastened as by 
such a forced education ; and we have before proved 


what an intimate connection there is between rapid or 
slow expansion, and a longer and shorter duration of 
life in general. Speedy ripening carries always along 
with it* speedy destruction. This, certainly, is one 
great cause of the dreadful mortality which prevails 
among children. But men overlook those causes which 
lie nearest to them, and assume rather the most absurd, 
in order that their minds may be at rest, and that they 
may have as little to do as possible. 

# One of the most remarkable instances of the prematurity of 
nature was Louis II., King of Hungary. He was born so long 
before the time that he had no skin. In his second year he was 
crowned ; in his tenth he succeeded ; in his fourteenth he had a 
complete beard ; in his fifteenth he married ; in his eighteenth he 
had gray hair, and in his twentieth he died. 


Physical excess in youth. 

"As youth is the period of growth, of forming and 
collecting the powers of the future man, every kind of 
excess calculated to weaken or exhaust the vital powers 
should be carefully guarded against. There are certain 
active properties which belong to this period, such as 
muscular motion, which can hardly be carried beyond 
the bounds of health. But the excesses most to be 
dreaded are those which spring from a too early antici- 
pation of the future man, in which the imagination and 
the feelings play a conspicuous part. Youth, it cannot 
be too often repeated, is the time for storing strength, 
both physical and moral ; and every act which can in 
any way impede or frustrate this all-wise intention of 
Nature, will tend to lay the foundation of a weak and 
imperfect body, and shorten the days of its possessor. 
Among the passions of the future man, which at this 
period should be strictly restrained, is that of physical 
love; for none wars so completely against the princi- 
ples which have been already laid down as the most 
conducive to long life ; no excess so thoroughly lessens 
the sum of the vital power; none so much weakens and 
softens the organs of life ; none is more active in hasten- 
ing vital consumption; and none so totally prohibits 


I might, if it were necessary, draw a painful, nay, a 
frightful picture, of the results of these melancholy ex- 
cesses ; but I refrain, in the hope that this simple 
caution will be sufficient. To my youthful readers I 
will simply say, Be wise in time. Experience may 
appear a harsh, but, nevertheless, she is a just mon- 
itor." EDITOR. 


Overstrained exertion of the mental faculties. 

MENTAL as well as bodily excess, is attended with 
destructive consequences ; and it is worthy of remark, 
that too great exertion of the mental faculties, and the 
waste of the vital power connected with it, produce on 
the health and vital duration almost the same effects 
as a waste of the physical powers loss of the power 
of digestion, depression, dejection, weakness of the 
nerves, consumption, and premature death. 

Much, however, depends here on the difference of 
structure and constitution ; and those who have natu- 
rally a stronger and more active organization of soul, 
must suffer less from such exertion than those who are 
destitute of that advantage. Those, therefore, are most 
affected by it, who, with a moderate structure of mind, 
attempt to force it beyond its powers ; and that exces- 
sive mental exertion which we make involuntarily, and 
without pleasure in the object of it, will hence weaken 
us most. 

But it may here be asked, What is meant by excess 
in mental exertion ? This, in general, is as difficult to 
be defined as excess in eating and drinking ; because 
the whole depends on the difference in the capacity and 
state of the mental powers, and these are as different 


as the powers of digestion. That may be excess of 
mental exertion for one, which is not so for another, 
endowed with stronger faculties. The circumstances, 
also, under which that function is exercised, make a 
very essential difference. I shall, therefore, define 
more accurately what is to be understood by excess in 
the function of thinking. 

1st. When one, while employed in abstruse thought, 
neglects too much the body. Every irregular exertion 
of our powers is hurtful ; and as a man is infinitely 
more weakened when he exercises his thought without 
attending to bodily exercise, it is equally certain that 
those can undergo more mental labor, and with much 
less injury to their health, who, in the mean time, give 
to the body suitable and periodical exercise. 

2d. When one thinks too incessantly on the same 
subject. The same law prevails here as in regard to 
muscular motion. When one moves the arm continu- 
ally in the same direction, one, in a quarter of an hour, 
will become more fatigued than if the limb had been 
moved two hours in various directions. Nothing ex- 
hausts so much as uniformity in the pursuit and em- 
ployment of the mental powers ; and Boerhaave tells 
us that after having bestowed intense study, for a few 
days and nights, on the same object, he fell suddenly 
into such a state of lassitude and relaxation, that he lay 
some time in an insensible and deathlike condition. A 
proper change of objects is, therefore, the first rule in 
order to study without injury to the health, and even 
to accomplish more work upon the whole. I am ac- 
quainted with great and intense thinkers, mathemati- 
cians, and philosophers, who, at an advanced period of 


life, are still happy and contented; but I know also 
that they have made this variety a law, and that they 
always divide their time between these abstract studies 
and reading history, agreeable poetry, travels, and 
works of natural history. It is of great benefit, in this 
respect, to unite always a practical with a speculative 

3d. When one employs the mind on too abstract or 
difficult subjects ; as for example, problems of the 
higher mathematics and metaphysics. The object 
makes a very essential difference. The more abstract 
it is, and the more it obliges one to disengage one's self 
from the sensual world, and, as it were, to insulate the 
mind separated from the body, the most unnatural state, 
without doubt, that can possibly be, the more weaken- 
ing and overstraining is its effect. Half an hour of 
such abstraction exhausts more than a whole day em- 
ployed in translation. But here, also, a great deal is 
relative. Many are born for such labor, and have 
those powers and that frame of mind which it requires ; 
while on the other hand, many are destitute of both, 
and yet endeavor to force them. It appears to me very 
singular that, when it is requisite to raise up a corpo- 
real burden, people always first try it by their strength, 
to discover whether it be not too heavy for them ; but 
in regard to a mental burden, never consult their powers 
to know whether they are sufficient to sustain it. How 
many have I seen miserable and enervated, merely 
because they attempted to dive to the depths of philoso- 
phy without having philosophical heads ! Must every 
man, then, be a philosopher by profession, as seems to 


be the mode at present ? In my opinion, a particular 
organization is necessary for that purpose ; and it may 
be left to the chosen few to investigate and unfold the 
secrets of philosophy ; as to others, let them be contented 
with acting and living like philosophers. 

4th. I consider it also as excess, when one labors 
always in creating and never in enjoying what has 
been created by others. The labor of the mind may 
be divided into two parts : the creative, which produces 
of itself and gives birth to new ideas ; and the recipient, 
or passive, which merely receives and enjoys foreign 
ideas, as, for example, by reading or hearing others. 
The former is by far the most exhausting ; and one 
ought, therefore, to vary them, and to enjoy them in 

oth. When one begins to overstrain the mind too 
early in infancy. At this period a small exertion is 
highly prejudicial. Before the age of seven, all men- 
tal labor is an unnatural state, and attended with con- 
sequences as fatal to the body as the most exhausting 

Gth. When one studies invita Minerva, that is ap- 
plies to subjects on which one labors involuntarily, and 
not con amore. The more inclination one has for any 
kind of mental enjoyment, exertion will be the less 
hurtful. More caution, therefore, is necessary in the 
choice of studies ; and wretched must those be who 
neglect an object of so much importance. 

7th. When one stimulates, strengthens, or prolongs 
mental exertion by artificial means. People employ 
commonly, for this purpose, wine, coffee, or snuff; and 


though these artificial helps of thought are in general 
not to be approved, because they always exhaust 
doubly, it must, however, be confessed, that, at those 
times when the labor of the mind does not depend upon 
the will, but on periods and hours, they cannot alto- 
gether be dispensed with ; and on such occasions, a 
dish of coffee, a pipe of tobacco, or a pinch of snuff, 
may be the most sufferable. But let people be on their 
guard against excess ; because an abuse of them must 
increase, in an incredible degree, the mischiefs of men- 
tal exertion. 

8th. When one overstrains the mind during the time 
of digestion. This occasions double injury : one weak- 
ens one's self more, as more exertion is then necessary 
for thinking, and interrupts at the same time the impor- 
tant function of digestion. 

9th. When one employs, in mental labor, that time 
which ought to be devoted to sleep ; a custom highly 
prejudicial to life, and of which I shall speak more ex- 
pressly when I come to treat on sleep. 

10th. When one unites study with hurtful external 
circumstances ; and of these there are two in particu- 
lar, sitting in a bent posture, and confined air ; which 
are often more destructive in their consequences than 
intense thinking itself. People, therefore, ought to 
accustom themselves to study lying, standing, walking, 
or riding on a hobby ; not always in the closet, but 
sometimes in the open air ; and they will then suffer 
much less from those diseases which are so incident 
to men of letters. The ancient philosophers undoubt- 
edly studied as much as the modern literati ; and yet 


never suffered from bodily disease induced by such 
study. The sole cause of this was, that they medi- 
tated more, lying or walking, and in the open air ; be- 
cause they never drank coffee, or used tobacco ; and 
because at the same time that they exercised the mind, 
they never neglected the care and the exercise of the 


Diseases. Injudicious manner of treating them. Sudden kinds of 
death. Propensity to self-murder. 

DREADFULLY, has this host of the secret and open 
enemies of life increased in modern times. When one 
reflects how little a savage of the South Sea Islands 
knows of diseases, and then takes a view of an Euro- 
pean compendium of pathology, where they are mar- 
shalled by regiments and companies, and where their 
number amounts to several thousands, one cannot help 
being alarmed to find that so much is possible for lux- 
ury, corruption of morals, unnatural modes of living, 
and excesses. Many, nay, the greater part of these 
diseases, are occasioned by our own fault ; and it is 
equally certain that new ones may be created by the 
like conduct. Others came into the world no one 
knows when or how, and were altogether strangers to 
the ancients. These are the most inveterate and de- 
structive ; the smallpox, the measles, and scarlet fever : 
and these even are so far owing to ourselves, that we 
suffer them to spread and exercise their ravages, with- 
out forming any regulations to check them ; though it is 
proved that, by a proper exercise of reason, with the 
help of those observations that have been collected, we 
might banish them from our boundaries, in the same 
manner as they were introduced. 


The greater part of diseases act either as violent 
kinds of death ; the means of suddenly stopping vital 
operation, like the apoplexy ; or as the means of short- 
ening it gradually, by being either totally incurable, or, 
even when they are cured, by leaving behind them such 
a loss of the vital power, or such weakness and derange- 
ment of the nobler organs, that a body so affected can 
no longer attain to that term of life to which it was 
originally destined. 

The following short view, collected from different 
bills of mortality, will show, in the clearest manner, 
how monstrous that los is which mankind sustain at 
present by disease. Of a thousand persons who are 
born, 24 die at their very birth ; teething carries off 
50 ; convulsions and other diseases during the two first 
years, 277; the smallpox, which, as is well known, 
destroys one in ten, carries off 80 or 90 ; and the mea- 
sles 10. If they are females, 8 die in childbed. The 
asthma, consumption, and disorders of the chest, at least 
in England, destroy 190 ; violent fevers, 150 ; apo- 
plexy, 12, and the dropsy, 41. Of a thousand persons 
also, we can allow only 78 who die of old age, or rather 
at an advanced period of life ; for the greater part of 
these will fall a sacrifice to accidental affections. In 
short, it hence appears, that nine-tenths of mankind 
die always prematurely, and by the effects of disease. 

I must here mention also a new and detestable dis- 
order, which tends to the immediate destruction of life, 
I mean a propensity to self-murder. This unnatural 
passion, which prevailed formerly through direful ne- 
cessity and heroic resolution, has now become a disease, 
which, in the bloom of youth, amidst the most favorable 


circumstances, merely by disgust and satiety of life, can 
excite the most horrid and irresistible desire to deprive 
one's self of existence.* There are, indeed, men in 
whom every source of vital sensation and vital enjoy- 
ment is so exhausted, in whom every germ of activity 
and happiness is so deadened, that they find nothing so 
insipid, so disagreeable, and so disgustful as life ; that 
they have no longer any points of contact with the 
world which surrounds them ; and that life, at last, 
becomes to them such an oppressive burden, that they 
cannot withstand the desire of getting rid of it. And 
these men, for the most part, are such as, by youthful 
dissipation, and too early a wasting of the powers and 
vigor which ought to be the seasoning of life, have 
exhausted themselves, and become incapable of relish- 
ing its enjoyments. Is it not natural that such unfor- 
tunate beings should prefer death without all sensation, 
to a living death which their life may undoubtedly be 
called ? 

But the mischiefs of these already too numerous and 
dangerous enemies are infinitely increased, because 
people in part treat them very improperly, and in gen- 
eral abuse medicine too much. 

Among those improprieties which regard the treat- 
ment of diseases, I reckon the following : "When peo- 
ple, notwithstanding every proof of their mischief, suffer 
the causes of disease to remain in activity : when one, 
for example, evidently observes, that drinking wine, the 
use of too light clothing, or sitting up late at night, 

* In seventy-five years, twice as many people in London fall 
a sacrifice to suicide as to the ple'urisy. 


brings on disease, and yet continues these practices ; 
also, when one totally mistakes the disease, or will not 
allow that any exists, by which means a very trifling 
indisposition may be converted into a serious malady. 
And here I cannot help particularly mentioning a neg- 
ligence to which the lives of thousands are undoubtedly 
sacrificed ; I mean neglecting a catarrh or cough. 
People in general consider this as a necessary, and, in 
part, useful evil ; and in that respect they are right, if 
the catarrh be moderate, and do not continue too long. 
But one ought never to forget that every catarrh is a 
disease, and may readily end in an inflammation of the 
lungs, or, what is more frequently the case, in an 
asthma or consumption ; and I do not say too much when 
I assert, that one-half of all the asthmas arise from ca- 
tarrhs which have been thus neglected. Such mischief 
follows when they continue too long, or have been im- 
properly treated ; and I therefore recommend the two 
following rules, which ought to be sacredly observed by 
every one who is attacked by a catarrh of the chest. 
One must not overlook a catarrh cough more than a 
fortnight ; if it continue longer, it must be considered as 
a disease, and be treated by a physician. Secondly, 
during the time every catarrh lasts, one must guard 
against violent heating of the body, cold, and the use of 
spices, wine, and other spirituous liquors. 

It is also a too common mode of improperly treating 
diseases, that people often, partly from ignorance or 
prejudice, and partly through mistaken tenderness, do 
exactly the contrary of what ought properly to be done. 
Of this kind are, when people oblige the patient to eat, 


though he has no appetite ; when, during feverish dis- 
orders he is suffered to use beer, wine, coffee, meat- 
soups, and other rich and nourishing things, by which 
the slightest degree of fever may be changed into the 
most violent ; when people, on the patient's complaining 
of a fever, and that cold which is connected with it, 
bury him immediately under bed-clothes, shut up the 
doors and the windows, and heat the air of the apart- 
ment as much as possible ; and when they do not pay 
sufficient attention to cleanliness and ventilation. This 
injudicious treatment destroys more of mankind than 
disease itself; and is principally the cause why, in the 
country, so many strong sound men fall a sacrifice to 
death ; why diseases there so readily assume a malig- 
nant quality ; why, for example, the smallpox is more 
destructive there in winter than in summer, because 
people shut the doors and windows, and, by artificial 
means, keep up in the patient's bed-chamber a heat 
equally great perhaps as that which prevails during the 

And lastly, I reckon among these improprieties, when 
one consults no physician, or consults one that is unskil- 
ful, uses medicine injudiciously, has recourse to quacks, 
and employs secret means, universal remedies, etc., of 
which I shall treat more at length when I come to the 
rational use of medicine. 

The violent kinds of death also sweep off an immense 
number of mankind ; and these, in modern times, have 
unfortunately made great progress. Not only have a 
more enlarged spirit of enterprise, the greater frequency 
of sea-voyages, and more extensive trade, multiplied 
such accidents ; but people have fallen upon inventions 


for accomplishing the object of shortening life in an 
incredibly quick and refined manner. I shall here 
mention only gunpowder, and several new sorts of poison, 
such as Aqua Toffana, Succession Powder, etc. Nay, 
the art of killing has now become a peculiar and ex- 
alted science. 


Impure air. Men living together in large cities. 

ONE of the greatest means of shortening human life 
is, men living together in great cities. Dreadful is the 
preponderance which the ravage thence occasioned has 
in the bills of mortality. In Vienna, Berlin, Paris, 
and London, the twentieth or twenty-third person dies 
annually ; while in the country around them, the pro- 
portion is only one in thirty or forty. Rousseau is per- 
fectly right when he says that men, of all animals, are 
the least formed for living together in great multitudes. 
The breath of a man is deadly for his fellow-creature ; 
and this is the case both in a proper as well as a figu- 
rative sense. The moisture, or, as it is commonly 
called, the thickness of the air, is not what alone makes 
it prejudicial, but the animalization which it acquires 
by so many people being crowded together. We can 
at most breathe the same air only four times ; for it is 
then, from the finest support of life, converted by our- 
selves into the most deadly poison. Let one now only 
reflect on the atmosphere of such monstrous places, 
where it is impossible for an inhabitant to inspire a 
mouthful of air that has not been for some time already 
in the lungs of another. This produces a general secret 
poisoning, which, upon the whole, must necessarily 
shorten the duration of life. Those men who are able, 


ought to avoid living in great cities : they are open 
sepulchres for mankind ; and not only in a physical, but 
in a moral point of view. Even in cities of moderate 
size, where perhaps the streets are somewhat narrow, 
people should prefer a residence in the suburbs ; and it 
is at least their duty to quit the city atmosphere for an 
hour or half an hour every day, merely in order that 
they may inspire a little fresh air. 


Intemperance in eating and drinking. Refined Cookery. Spirituous 

THE first thing which, in regard to diet, can act 
as a shortener of life, is immoderation. Eating and 
drinking too much is prejudicial to life two ways. It 
overstrains the powers of digestion, and thereby 
weakens them. It prevents digestion, because with 
such a quantity the whole cannot be properly prepared; 
arid crudities*in the intestines, and bad juices are tle 
consequence. It increases also proportionably the 
quantity of the blood, and thereby accelerates circula- 
tion and life ; and besides, it gives rise to indigestion, 
and the necessity of using evucuants, which always 

To eat too much, means when people eat till they 
can eat no longer; and the following are the signs: 
When one experiences a heaviness and fulness of the 
stomach, yawning, eructation, drowsiness, and confusion 
in the head. The old rule, which contains much truth, 
ought therefore to be always observed : Give over eat- 
ing while you have still some appetite left. 

Too refined cookery belongs to the same class. Un- 
fortunately I must here exclaim against this friend of 
our palate, as one of the greatest enemies of life; as 
one of the most destructive inventions for shortening it, 
and in the following mariner: 


1st. It is well known that the principal part of this 
art consists in making every thing piquant and stimula- 
ting. Every article of food, therefore, is half com- 
posed, according to this preparation, of hot, stimulating 
substances; and instead of accomplishing, by eating, 
what is the natural object of it, nourishment and resto- 
ration, we increase rather, by irritation, internal con- 
sumption, and actually produce the contrary. After a 
meal of this kind one has always an artificial fever; and 
those who use such food may justly say, consumendo 

2nd. The worst is, that people, by this cookery, are 
always induced to eat too much. They become such 
friends to their palate, that every remonstrance of the 
stomach is ineffectual; and as the palate is always 
tickled in a new and agreeable manner, the stomach 
has thrice or four times as much labor as it is capable 
of performing. For it is a very common fault, that one 
does not make a distinction between the appetite of the 
palate and that of the stomach ; but considers that as a 
real, which is only a false, appetite ; and this error is 
by nothing favored so much as refined cookery. Man 
thereby loses, at length, one of the greatest supports 
of life, the property of knowing when he has had 

3rd. One grand maxim in this cookery is, by the 
most unnatural and most variegated compositions, to 
produce new stimulants, and new dishes. And hence 
it happens that things which singly and alone were per- 
fectly harmless and innocent, acquire, by combination, 
properties altogether new and destructive. Acids and 

* In consuming we are ourselves consumed. EDITOR. 


sweet substances, for example, do not hurt when used 
separately ; but when used together, they may become 
prejudicial. Eggs, milk, butter, and flour, are each, 
used by itself, very easy of digestion ; but when joined 
together, and formed into a fat solid pudding, the produce 
will be extremely heavy and indigestible. It may, 
therefore, be laid down as a fundamental principle, that 
the more compounded any kind of food is, the more 
difficult it will be of digestion ; and what is still worse, 
the more corrupt will be the juices which are prepared 
from it. 

4th. A grand acquisition in the newest mode of 
cookery is the art of bringing nourishing juices into 
the body in the most concentrated form. Hence we 
have consommes jus, coulus, and many other things of 
the like kind. By expression and boiling, people have 
found means to concentrate the substance of several 
pounds of beef, capon, and marrow-bones, into the small 
size of a jelly or soup; and they imagine they have 
accomplished something great when they send such an 
essence of nourishment immediately, and at once, into 
the blood, without exposing the teeth to the trouble of 
chewing, or the stomach to the labor of digesting. That 
is to say, people imagine they can restore themselves 
full gallop ; and this is the favorite system of those who 
consume themselves in that manner. But these people 
are miserably deceived ; for, 

In the first place, one can never deviate from the 
regulations of Nature without injury. Not without 
reason has it been made a law, that the stomach can 
receive only a certain quantity ; a degree more would 
be too much for the whole. Everybody can admit only 


a proportionable quantity of nourishment; and this 
capacity of the whole is always in direct ratio with the 
stomach. Man here defrauds Nature : he goes beyond 
the first principle, if! may say so; and smuggles, as it 
were, into the body, thrice or four times as much nour- 
ishment as it is capable of receiving. The consequence 
is, a continual plethora of all the vessels ; and this 
always destroys the equilibrium as well as the health, 
and, in the end, life itself. 

Secondly, it has been established by Nature, on 
grounds equally good, that our nourishment should be 
used in a form rather coarse. The advantage of this 
law is, that our food is first chewed in the mouth, 
macerated, and mixed with saliva: in the next place, 
that it is longer retained in the. stomach, in order, by its 
stimulating quality, to incite the stomach to more reac- 
tion : consequently it is much better assimilated and 
changed into the nature of our substance. On this 
properly depends real restoration; for nourishment can 
pass into our bodies, and become truly useful to us, only 
after it has been, by the powers of the stomach, ren- 
dered homogeneous and similar to our substance. 

By trangressing this first principle, one creates in the 
body juices, which, because they have not been suf- 
ficiently assimilated, are unable to effect proper restora- 
tion; which, as foreign particles, tend rather to irritate; 
and thus promote consumption, much more than resto- 

In my opinion, therefore, it is highly proper that an 
art which prevents restoration, which fills us with raw 
undigested juices, and which increases internal con- 
sumption, should be considered, not as a friend of our 


life, but as one of its most essential enemies. One might 
almost imagine that it was invented to convert one of 
the noblest gifts of God into a secret poison. 

Lastly, we may place in this class, of things that tend 
in a particular manner to shorten life, all preparations 
of spirituous liquors, which, under whatever name 
known, are, in that respect, highly prejudicial. "When 
people drink these, they drink liquid fire. They accele- 
rate vital consumption in a dreadful manner ; and make 
life, in the properest sense, a process of burning. 


Passions and dispositions of mind which shorten life. Peevishness. 
Too much occupation and business. 

CERTAIN habits and dispositions of mind, such as 
melancholy, care, dejection, fear, anxiety, faint-hearted- 
ness, and, in particular, avarice and hatred, which are 
hostile to life, claim a distinguished rank among those 
means which tend to shorten it. 

All these exhaust the finest of the vital powers ; de- 
stroy, in particular, digestion and assimilation ; weaken 
the vigor of the heart ; and, by these means, impede 
the important business of restoration. The first or mel- 
ancholy affections act, however, negatively in shorten- 
ing life. On the other hand, those of avarice and hatred 
have, as it were, a positive property of bringing on 
death. They not only deprive the body of its vital 
powers, but, as they incessantly sharpen the bile, they 
are continually preparing a secret poison ; and by the 
general irritation of the bile, increase, in an extraordi- 
nary degree, self-consumption. That motto, therefore, 
is highly proper : Avarice consumes itself. 

To these belongs that malignant disposition of mind 
known by the name of peevishness. Nothing can so 
much blast the bloom of life, shut up every access to 
pleasure and enjoyment, and change the beautiful stream 
of life into a stagnated puddle, as this disagreeable habit. 


I advise every one who regards his life to fly from this 
deadly poison, and never to suffer it even to approach. 

Fear, also, deserves here a particular place. It be- 
longs, in like manner, to those bad habits of mind which 
one can harbor or banish at pleasure. 

Walter, an Englishman, who sailed round the world 
with Anson, was conversing one day with young Berk- 
enhout ; and as the latter happened to mention the 
word Fear, Walter, with some emotion, replied, Fear is 
a base passion, beneath the dignity of man. And, with- 
out doubt, it is one of the most absurd : a passion which 
debases and degrades man, as much as its opposite 
passion, courage, can exalt and elevate him above 
human nature. Fear robs him of power, reflection, 
judgment, resolution ; in a word, of all that preemi- 
nence which the human mind enjoys ; and, to accustom 
children not to fear, ought to be one of the first prin- 
ciples of education. But, unfortunately, the direct con- 
trary is the case. I shall here enlarge on two only of 
the most usual kinds of fear : fear of thunder, and fear 
of apparitions or spirits. Now he who is subject to 
both these may bid farewell to happiness and tranquil- 
lity. The period of night, which by its obscurity is so 
wisely destined for sweet repose, is to him the signal 
of the most painful uneasiness. While others enjoy 
peaceful sleep, he listens with trembling and dismay to 
the smallest sound ; the sweat of horror bursts forth 
from every pore of his body ; and he is more fatigued 
in the morning, than at the moment when he lay down. 

The joyful season of summer is to him also a period 
of terror and dread ; and every fine day brings with it 
the idea of thunder, and the apprehension of danger. 

One may easily comprehend what destructive influ- 


ence such continual misery must have on the duration 
of life. Fear is an incessant cramp ; it contracts all 
the smaller vessels ; the whole skin grows cold, and 
perspiration is completely checked. The blood is col- 
lected in the interior large vessels ; pulsation becomes 
irregular ; the heart is overcharged, and cannot move 
with freedom. The important business of circulation is 
therefore deranged. Digestion is also interrupted, and 
crampish affections take place. All the muscular power 
is palsied ; the sufferer attempts to run, but is not able ; 
he is seized with a general shivering ; he breathes short, 
and with difficulty ; in a word, fear has all those effects 
which are produced by a mortal secret poison, and its 
consequences are equally pernicious in shortening life. 

It is impossible for me to omit here a characteristic 
of modern times, which certainly deprives us of a valu- 
able part of our life : namely, that unfortunate spirit of 
restless enterprise (polypraymosine), which at present 
subdues a great part of the human race ; an incessant 
fickleness, and propensity to new undertakings, new 
labors, and new plans. The genius of our age seems 
to incline men, much more than is natural for them, to 
reflection, activity, speculations, and reformation of 
every kind ; and to exercise with more vigor all the 
powers which they possess : for the great increase of 
luxury, by still multiplying its wants, makes new schemes 
and new exertions of the faculties always more neces- 
sary. Hence arises that endless uneasiness which de- 
stroys all sensation of internal tranquillity and con- 
tentment ; which never suffers men to enjoy that degree 
of peace and relaxation indispensably requisite for re- 
storing them ; and which, consequently, in an alarming 
manner, accelerates consumption. 


The fear of death. 

No kind of fear is attended with more unhappiness" 
than the fear of death. He who is subject to it dreads 
something which is totally unavoidable, and against 
which we can never be a moment secure. He enjoys 
pleasure with trembling and anxiety ; he denies himself 
every thing, because every thing may be the vehicle of 
death ; and by this everlasting apprehension of losing 
life, he loses it in reality. No one who feared death 
ever attained to a great age. 

Love life, and fear not death ! is a command and a 
prophecy, the only true frame of mind to become happy 
and old ; for, whoever fears death may bid farewell to 1 
happiness. To him no enjoyment is pure ; every plea- 
sure is poisoned with the idea of death ; he is always 
like a malefactor pursued ; the enemy is continually at 
his heels ; and yet there are an immense number of 
people who are not able to banish from them this 
disease of the mind. For the benefit of these I shall 
here lay down some rules, which, though they may not 
display much metaphysical acuteness, I can recom- 
mend as good preservatives against the fear of death ; 
and which I know by experience, to have been effec- 
tual : 

1st. Let a man make himself very familiar with the 


idea of death. He alone, in my opinion, is happy, who 
has so often, and in so undaunted a manner, looked this 
unavoidable enemy in the face, that by long custom, it 
has at length become to him a matter of indifference. 
How much do those deceive themselves who imagine 
they have found, in banishing the thoughts of death, 
the best remedy for the fear of it. Before they are 
aware, amidst the most lively enjoyment will the idea 
rush upon them, and derange them the more, the less 
they are acquainted with it. In a word, I can call 
those alone fortunate who have carried this custom so 
far, that in the moment of joy they can think of death 
-without being depressed ; and my readers may believe 
me, for 1 assert it on my own experience, that, by often 
dwelling upon this idea, and moderating its appearances, 
we shall at length acquire a wonderful indifference re- 
specting it. Let us only turn our attention to soldiers, 
sailors, and miners. Where shall we find men more 
contented and happy, more susceptible of every joy ? 
And for what reason ? Because, by their continual 
approach to death, they have learned to despise it. He 
who no longer fears death is alone free ; there is no- 
thing else that can fetter his senses, disturb him, or 
render him unhappy. His soul is filled with exalted 
and undaunted courage, which strengthens the vital 
power, and which is therefore a positive means of re- 
moving this fear. 

This custom is attended also with some concomitant 
'circumstances which are undoubtedly of no little im- 
portance. It is an excellent help to enable one to 
^continue honest and virtuous. On every occasion of 
-doubt, when the question arises whether an action be 


right or wrong, let a man think only on the last hour 
of his life, and ask himself, Wouldst thou then do so ; 
wilt thou then wish to have acted so ? Innocence is 
certainly that happy state, that enjoyment of life, which 
can enable a man to think on death without terror. If 
a man harbor enmity or revenge against another, if he 
entertain a wish of avenging an injury done to him, let 
him only reflect on that hour, and on the state in which 
hfs thoughts will then be, and I engage that his ideas 
of enmity and revenge will immediately forsake him. 
The reason is, that, by thus changing the theatre of ac- 
tion, all those little selfish objects by which we are usu- 
ally gaided are removed ; every thing at once appears 
in its proper point of view, under its just proportion ; 
the deception vanishes, and nothing remains but what 
is real.* 

* Allied with the fear of death is the foolish objection which 
some people have to making their wills, and doing that which 
none others can do so well as themselves, namely, arranging 
their affairs. Indeed I have known some so irrational as to en- 
tertain alarm at the insurance of their lives ; as though the 
thought on death could hasten its approach. The duty of mak- 
ing a will is one which ought to be performed by every person, 
the moment he arrives at man's or woman's estate, and the neg- 
lect of that duty I regard as a dangerous sin. The great Locke, 
in a letter to Lord King, has these memorable reflections on 
making his will : "I shall not die the sooner for having cast 
up my reckoning, and, judging as impartially of my state as I 
can, I hope I shall not live one jot the less cheerfully the time 
that I am here, nor neglect any of the offices of life whilst I 
have it ; for whether it be a month, or a year, or seven years 
longer the longest any one out of kindness or compliment can 
propose to me is so near nothing when considered and in re- 
spect of eternity, that if the sight of death can put an end to 


2d. Many fear death much less than the operation 
of dying. People here form the most singular concep- 
tion of the last struggle, the separation of the soul from 
the body ?> and the like. But this is all void of founda- 
tion. No man certainly ever felt what death is ; and 
as insensibly as we enter into life, equally insensibly 
do we leave it. The beginning and the end are here 
united. My proofs are as follows : First, man can 
have no sensation of dying ; for to die, means nothiiTg 
more that to lose the vital power ; and it is the vital 
power by which the soul communicates sensation to the 
body. In proportion as the vital power decreases, we 
lose the power of sensation, and of consciousness*; and 
we cannot lose life, without at the same time, or rather 
before, losing our vital sensation, which requires the 
assistance of the tenderest organs. We are taught also 
by experience, that all those who ever passed through 
the first stage of death, and were again brought to 
life, unanimously asserted that they felt nothing of dy- 
ing, but sunk at once into a state of insensibility. Let 
us not be led into a mistake by the convulsive throbs, 
the rattling in the throat, and the apparent pangs of 
death, which are observed in many persons when in a 
dying state. These symptoms are painful only to the 
spectators, and not to the dying, who are not sensible of 
them. The case here is the same as if one, from the 
dreadful contortions of a person in an epileptic fit, 
should form a conclusion respecting his internal feelings. 
From what affects us so much, he suffers nothing. 

the comforts of life, it is always near enough, especially to one 
of my age, to have no satisfaction in living." Lord King's Life 
of Locke, 2d edit. p. 40. EDITOR. 


3d. Let one always consider life, as it really is, a 
mean state, which is not an object itself, but a medium 
for obtaining an object, as the multifarious imperfec- 
tions of it sufficiently prove ; as a period of expansion 
and preparation, a fragment of our existence, through 
which we are to be fitted for and transmitted to other 
periods. Can the idea, then, of really making this 
transition ; of ascending to another from this mean 
state, this doubtful problematical existence, which never 
affords complete satisfaction, ever excite terror ? With 
courage and confidence we may, therefore, resign our- 
selves to the will of that Supreme Being, who, without 
our consent, placed us upon this sublunary theatre ; and 
give up to his management the future direction of our 

4th. Remembrance of the past, of that circle of 
friends who were nearest and always will be dearest to 
our hearts, and who, as it were, now smile to us with a 
friendly look of invitation from that country of dark- 
ness, will tend also very much to allay the fear of death. 


Idleness. Inactivity. Languor. 

BUT an opposite conduct, that of neglecting to exer- 
cise our powers, may tend also to shorten life; because, 
by these means, the organs will soon become unfit for 
use ; and derangement of them, interrupted purification 
of the juices, and bad restoration must be the conse- 
quence. It was the first and unalterable destination of 
man, that he should earn his bread by the sweat of his 
brow. And this principle is fully confirmed, in a physi- 
cal sense, by experience : he who eats without labor 
will never thrive. If the necessary proportion be not 
preserved between restoration and self-consumption, it 
is impossible to retain health or prolong life. If we 
consult observation, we shall find that no idler ever at- 
tained to a great age, and that those who have been dis- 
tinguished by their longevity were all men whose lives 
had been extremely active and laborious. 

But mental idleness is hurtful, as well as bodily; and 
I now come to a means of shortening life, which per- 
haps my readers did not expect, because it apparently 
makes the time appear to us so long : I here allude to 
languor. Let us examine the physical effects of it a 
little closer, and we shall see that this unpleasant state 
of mind is by no means a matter of indifference, but 
that it is attended with very important consequences to 


the condition of our bodies. What do we remark in a 
man who is subject to languor ? He begins to yawn ; 
this already betrays that the passage of the blood 
through the lungs is interrupted. The power of the 
heart and vessels suffers of course, and becomes too tor- 
pid. If the evil continue longer, accumulations and 
stoppages of the blood take place. The organs of di- 
gestion acquire a tendency to weakness ; and inactivity 
and debility, melancholy, flatulency, and hypochondriac 
affections ensue : in a word, all the functions are thereby 
weakened and deranged ; and I think I may with truth 
affirm, that a state which disturbs the most important 
operations of the body, and which enfeebles the noblest 
powers, is a shortener of life also. 

Languor, in a physical as well as a moral view, is a 
state of danger. Weikard mentions the instance of a 
child born of poor parents, who were obliged to earn 
their bread by their daily labor. The state of this 
child, from its birth, was therefore languor. At first 
the parents suffered it to lie alone in its cradle, where 
it spent its time in looking at its hands and feet. When 
it became bigger, it was always shut up in a hen-house, 
where it could see only through a small hole. What 
was the consequence? The child, when it grew up, 
remained heavy and stupid ; showed no signs of reason, 
and could scarcely speak. 

Nay, it is attended with effects still more destructive. 
With a melancholy temperament, languor may at length 
conduct one to self-rnurder. A dull English author, 
who has written a voluminous work on suicide, relates, 
that he one day met one of his countrymen who exhibit- 
ed every appearance of deep thought. " Whither art 


thou going, my friend ? " said the author. " To the 
Thames, to drown myself." " I beg of yon," replied 
the author, " to return home for this time, and to read 
over my work on suicide." " God forbid ! " answered 
the other. " It was reading that cursed, tedious book, 
which excited in me such a dreadful disgust of life that 
I am now firmly resolved to drown myself." 

But I think I hear every one ask, What in the world 
is the best remedy for languor ? It accompanies us to 
the ball, to the play-house, to the tea-table, in our walks ; 
in short, it is impossible for us to get rid of it! What 
you say is perfectly true, but it does not relieve us. 
There is only one, but not a very agreeable remedy for 
it, and that is regular employment. 


Overstrained power of the imagination. Imaginary diseases. 

IMAGINATION was given us as the seasoning of life ; 
but as physical seasoning must not be made our daily 
nourishment, our mental life, in the like manner, must 
not abuse this seasoning of the soul. Too much of it 
will, indeed, exalt vital sensation ; but one thereby in- 
creases intensive life together with consumption, and 
prevents restoration, as is proved by the meagreness of* 
such people as have fervid imaginations. Besides one, 
by these means, disposes the body to sudden as well as 
violent revolutions, which may become dangerous to 
life, because, with an overstretched imagination, it is 
possible for a small spark to produce a most dreadful 
explosion. He, therefore, who wishes to live long, 
must never suffer this power of the soul to assume a 
superiority, or to occasion a continued state of exalta- 
tion ; he will apply it to that purpose for which it was 
bestowed upon us, to give a higher lustre to the agree- 
able moments of life, to season the unfortunate or insipid, 
and to enliven the melancholy. 

This faculty may be highly prejudicial to life, when 
it acquires certain tendencies, which, by their collateral 
effects, produce double mischief; and of these, two ap- 


pear to me to be particularly dangerous, a propensity 
to imagine diseases and too great sensibility. 

The first disease of the imagination is principally pe- 
culiar to hypochondriacs ; but may be excited in those 
who are not physicians, if they read works on medicine, 
which they do not, like professional men, apply to the 
art, but to their own persons ; and who, for want of 
sufficient knowledge, conjecture often very erroneously. 
Of this I have seen astonishing instances. Not only 
people who, with features perfectly regular, supposed 
that their noses stood awry ; and who, though slender 
and sound in every respect, could not get rid of the idea 
that they were in the last stage of the dropsy, but I 
have seen a lady who, if asked whether she had not 
this or the other local disorder, felt in a mom'ent every 
'symptom of it. Having asked her if she had not the 
headache, she was instantly seized with it; and on 
asking, in the like manner, respecting the cramp in the 
arm, and the hiccup, both these affections immediately 
took place. 

Tulpius mentions the instance of a man who, by read- 
ing a great number of medical and chirurgical books, 
became quite frantic. 

Monro saw a man, who, by studying medicine under 
Boerhaave, had become hypochondriacs!. Whenever 
he attended any of Boerhaave's lectures, he always 
imagined that he was affected with the disease which 
had been the subject of it. By these means he was a 
continual living commentary on the science of physic ; 
but he had scarcely gone half through this destructive 
course of medicine, when he found himself so wretched 
and exhausted that he was obliged to give up the study 
altogether. Nay, we have had the instance of a per- 


son who imagined himself to be actually dead, and 
who, therefore, would have been starved, had not a 
friend, who pretended to be dead also, persuaded him 
that it was customary in the other world to eat a suffi- 
cient quantity daily. 

The misfortune attending this weakness not only is 
that it occasions constant fear and dread, and that many 
diseases are actually excited because people suppose 
they are afflicted with them, but it induces patients to 
have recourse to useless and preposterous medicines, 
and to quackery without end, which often consume the 
body much more rapidly than the disease itself would, 
did it really exist. 

No less dangerous is the second disease of the imagi- 
nation, sensibility ; a romantic turn of mind, melan- 
choly enthusaism. It is altogether the same whether 
one really suffers under distressful events, or, by read- 
ing romances and indulging sensibility too much, has 
made oneself so feelingly alive to every impression 
as to be overcome by the sensation it occasions. 
Nay, the latter case is the more prejudicial ; as the one 
is the natural state, but the other artificial ; and its 
affections are, therefore, more violent and stronger! 
We have already seen how highly destructive melan- 
choly is to the vital power and to every vital movement. 
One may easily comprehend, then, how baneful such a 
state must be, which subjects the mind to continual 
affliction at the hazard of life, and which cannot par- 
take in refined pleasures without tears and heart-break- 
ing sensations. What extinction of all energy, of all 
cheerfulness and courage ! Two years spent in such a 
state of ahguish, would undoubtedly shorten life in a 
considerable degree. 


Poisons physical as well as infectious. 

BY these I understand all those substances which, 
even in small quantity, are capable of producing very 
prejudicial or destructive effects on the human body. 
Of these there is a great abundance in nature, and of 
various kinds. Some act violently, others secretly ; 
some suddenly, others slowly ; some externally, others 
internally ; some visibly, others invisibly ; and it can- 
not be denied that they may be classed among the most 
general and the most dangerous enemies of life. 

I consider it, therefore, very necessary, as an essen- 
tial part of that universal knowledge which ought to be 
cultivated among mankind, that every one should learn 
to know and to guard against these poisons ; because 
people otherwise may, through mere ignorance and 
inattention, be liable to be poisoned a thousand ways. 
Animals have instinct to enable them to distinguish and 
to avoid poisons ; man has reason and experience ; but 
these, in this respect, are far from being sufficiently 
employed. My object, therefore, here, is to give man- 
kind such a comprehensive knowledge and conception 
of their danger as may induce them to guard against 
these enemies of life. 

It is a very hurtful prejudice that people, in common, 


consider nothing as poisonous but what can be received 
through the mouth. On the contrary, we may be poi- 
soned externally, as well as internally, through every 
part of our bodies, so far as they have absorbing ves- 
sels ; through the mouth and stomach, through the 
whole superficies of the skin, the nostrils, the ears, and 
the lungs, by means of bad air. The only difference is, 
that the effects, in many parts, take place slowly ; in 
others, rapidly ; and that many kinds of poison have an 
effect, in particular, upon one part, and some upon 

I divLle poisons in general into two classes, physical 
and contagious ; the latter of which are distinguished 
by their being generated in a living body, and possess- 
ing the power of communicating themselves to another. 

Among physical poisons, a knowledge of the follow- 
ing is particularly necessary : 

Arsenic, better known under the name of rat-poison, 
is the most violent of all. The smallest dose (five or 
six grains) is sufficient to destroy a person with the most 
excruciating torture. Numberless are the instances of 
people having suffered a severe death from it, but 
rather through ignorance and carelessness than through 
intention. I am of opinion, therefore, that it would be 
much better if this horrid poison were entirely banished ; 
especially as it is of so little use, and is employed 
almost for nothing else than to kill rats and mice. At 
any rate, it ought not to be kept by grocers and apothe- 
caries, near drawers where there is coffee, sugar, or any 
article used as food. In the mean time, I consider it 
as my duty to call the public attention to a few ways in 
which poisoning by arsenic may very easily be possible ; 


in which it often happens ; and to warn mankind 
against them. One of the most frequent is, when it 
is used to destroy vermin. If one reflects how many 
people have been deprived of existence by poison des- 
tined for mice, this practice ought to be altogether 
abandoned. Let not any one imagine that all danger 
may be prevented by great caution. I know an in- 
stance where some sweet milk, standing in a cellar, 
was poisoned by mice who had used some of it after 
eating rat-poison. It is much safer to employ for the 
same purpose poison-nuts, (Nux vomica) ; which are 
far less hurtful to man, but at the same time are a 
strong poison for animals. Another kind of poisoning 
with arsenic, less observed, is that by means of arsen- 
ical colors. Painters by profession know how to secure 
themselves against it ; but amateurs and children should 
be very cautious in using such colors, and at any rate 
.avoid that bad practice of drawing the brush through 
their mouth. Equally dangerous are toys painted with 
these colors, which ought never to be allowed. Lastly, 
I advise every one to guard against a method of poison- 
ing with arsenic which is practised by quacks and 
mountebanks. These impostors sell abundance of 
drops, as a cure for the cold fever, which contain 
nothing but arsenic. They indeed often cure the 
disease immediately ; but they occasion consumption 
afterwards, and other fatal consequences. Let people, 
for Heaven's sake, avoid all such arcana. 

A poison no less dreadful is lead. It is, perhaps, so 
far more terrible, as it acts more secretly as well as 
more slowly ; does not discover itself immediately, by 
such violent effects ; and because people may be com- 


plctely ruined by it, before it is known that they are 
poisoned. With this substance, in particular, poisoning 
is possible several ways, which the greater part of the 
public have never remarked, and against which I must 
here put them on their guard. In the first place, when 
people daily swallow with their food and drink some 
portion of lead, the most dreadful symptoms, impossible 
to be cured, may at length break out, often, even at the 
end of some years. This happens when victuals are 
dressed in vessels made of tin, which contains much 
lead, or in such as are badly glazed ; or when one 
drinks wine adulterated with lead. Another very usual 
method of poisoning is by painting the face with white 
lead, using washes made from lead, etc. All paints are 
prejudicial, but chiefly the white, because the whole of 
them almost contain white lead ; and the leaden par- 
ticles may be conveyed into our bodies, as well through 
the skin as through the stomach. Lastly, poisoning 
by means of apartments newly painted with Avhite 
lead, or oil-varnish, ought not to be forgotten. Who- 
ever inhabits these too soon, may, in particular, receive 
the poison into their lungs, and become hectic and asth- 

To the same class belong, also, quicksilver, antimony, 
and preparations of copper ; which ought all to be con- 
sidered as noxious poisons, and which should be guard- 
ed against, particularly the last, in regard to cooking 
victuals in copper vessels. Even the greater part of 
neutral salts, when used in too great quantity at once, 
and not sufficiently dissolved in water, may be attended 
with poisonous effects. I have met with some instances 
where an ounce, or an ounce-and-a-half of alum or salt- 


petre, taken at once, instead of Glauber's salts, excited 
every symptom of the most violent poison, and which 
could not be removed but with difficulty. 

The vegetable kingdom contains a multitude of poi- 
sons, which partly occasion death by torpor, such as 
opium and deadly nightshade ; and partly by burning 
and inflammation, as mezereon and euphorbium. Great 
mistakes are committed here, also, through inattention. 
Numberless are the instances where people, instead of 
chervil (chcenopodium) for salad, have used hemlock ; 
instead of parsnips, have eaten the roots of henbane ; 
instead of common mushrooms, poisonous fungi ; or used 
the berries of the nightshade, mezereon, etc., by which 
they brought on death. In every seminary of learn- 
ing, therefore, a sufficient knowledge of all the poi- 
sonous plants growing in the neighborhood should be 

The poisonous plants most pernicious, and which it 
is most necessary to know and guard against, are the 
belladonna ; hemlock (cicuta) ; henbane (hyosciamm) ; 
wolfsbane (aconitum) ; foxglove (digitalis) ; nightshade 
(solanum) ; darnel (lolium temulentum) ; mezereon 
(Daphne) ; several sorts of the ranunculus ; poisonous 
lettuce (lactuca virosa) ; and the laurel-cherry (lauroce- 
rasus). To these belong also bitter almonds, which, ac- 
cording to the latest experiments, contain a deadly poi- 
son, not inferior to that of the laurel. 

The air even, in which we live, can be poisoned so 
as to destroy us either suddenly or secretly. I shall 
here speak, in the first place, of that poison which we 
ourselves communicate to the atmosphere by living and 
breathing. Living beings consume, in a certain quan- 


tity of air, pure substance which we call vital air (oxy- 
gen) ; and, in place of it, give back an impure substance 
(carbonic acid gas) not fit for breathing. If a great 
multitude of people are shut up in a small space, death 
may soon be the consequence.* If the space be larger, 
and the number less, though death may not ensue, the 
effects may be still prejudicial. All places, therefore, 
where numerous bodies of people are crowded together, 
ought to be avoided ; particularly when they have not 
a sufficient height or free passage for the air. This is 
most frequently the case in play-houses. One of the 
surest signs of the air being poisoned, is when the 
lights will no longer burn clear and readily, or here 
and there go out of themselves. In an equal degree 
is it then unfit for life, because fire and life require the 
same part of the air for their support. Those who 
keep their sitting apartments or bed-chambers always 
closely shut, expose themselves to a slow poisoning of 
the like kind. In the same manner may the air be 
poisoned when a great many lights are kept burning 
in a close room. And the case is the same when one 
sleeps in a close bed-chamber where coals are burning, 
by which death is often the consequence. When one 
keeps in a close bed-chamber, during night, a great 
many plants and shrubs, the air experiences a similar 
kind of poisoning ; while, on the other hand, the same 
plants, in the daytime, and exposed to the sun, render 
the air more pure and wholesome. Evaporation from 

* This is sufficiently proved by the dreadful instance which 
happened in the black hole at Calcutta, where, of 146 English- 
men, confined scarcely twelve hours, 123 were destroyed by the 
air being thus poisoned. 



putrid substances is capable of producing the like effect. 
The strong smelling effluvia of flowers can communi- 
cate to the air, in close apartments, a pernicious, and 
even , a deadly quality also ; and therefore it is not 
proper to keep in one's bed-chamber strong scented 
flowers, such as the narcissus, roses, etc. 

But far more important and dangerous appear to me 
the class of infectious poisons, to which I now proceed ; 
and I earnestly request that my readers will pay the 
utmost attention to the observations I shall make re- 
specting them. Concerning physical poisons, people 
may always procure information : there are works 
which treat of them ; they are known, and conse- 
quently can be avoided. With infectious poisons the 
case is quite different. They have been overlooked, as 
unavoidable and necessary evils; they have not been 
much considered as poisons, but in regard to the dis- 
eases which they occasion ; people poison, and are 
poisoned; and this dreadful secret trade is carried on 
daily and hourly, without men knowing or reflecting 
what they are about. Physical poisons, as is proper, 
have been subjected to police laws : the State takes care 
that they shall be carefully kept, and that the use of 
them be limited ; and those who wilfully administer 
them to others, are treated as criminals, and punished. 
The infectious poisons, on the other hand, are restrained 
by no laws, by no police ordinances: they exercise 
their ravages among us without interruption ; the hus- 
band poisons the wife, the son the father ; and no one 
takes any trouble to remedy this evil. Lastly, physical 
poisons hurt only the individual ; whereas the infectious 
possess the peculiar power of reproducing themselves 


in every living being, and of multiplying without end ; 
they injure, therefore, not only those poisoned, but ren- 
der them new sources by which whole neighborhoods 
and districts may be infected. 

I could here produce the most melancholy instances 
of men who merely through ignorance were poisoned 
in this manner ; and of some who infected others, even 
their nearest friends, because they were unacquainted 
with these poisons, and the way in which they are pro- 
pagated. I, therefore, consider a knowledge on this sub- 
ject so necessary, and so defective among the public, 
that I with pleasure embrace the present opportunity 
of saying something upon it, which may be of general 

Infectious poisons are such as can be no otherwise 
generated than in a living body ; and which possess the 
power of reproducing themselves when communicated 
to another, and of giving rise to the same corruption 
and disease which prevailed in the former. Each class 
of animals has one peculiar to itself, and which does not 
take any effect upon another. Thus mankind have 
some which do not attack animals : for example, the 
smallpox. * Animals, on the other hand, are suscepti- 
ble of some which do not affect men ; as, the disease 
among horned cattle, and the glanders among horses.f 
I am acquainted with only one peculiar to men as well 
as animals, and that is the poison of canine madness. 

* The smallpox is met with in sheep ; and the cowpox is now 
recognized as the smallpox of the cow. In my work on " Dis- 
eases of the Skin, " I have recorded examples of human small- 
pox being communicated to cows. EDITOR. 

t Glanders is now too well known to be communicable to man 
and to give rise in him to a virulent and fatal disorder. EDITOR. 


A very remarkable difference between these poisons 
is, that some of them never appear again without fresh 
external infection; as, the smallpox, measles, and 
plague : while others may be again produced, without 
infection, merely by corruption, and certain changes 
which take place in animal bodies ; and among the 
latter class are the putrid fevers. It has, therefore, 
been often asked, Whence did the poisons of the first 
class arise ? And, indeed, it is difficult to answer this 
question. The analogy of the latter class, however, 
allows us to suppose that they were first generated in 
the human body, but through so rare a concurrence of 
external as well as internal circumstances that thou- 
sands of years, perhaps, must be necessary before the 
same thing can again happen. It hence follows, that 
these poisons, as they must always, in order to continue, 
be produced in a human body, may again cease, as soon 
as they have been deprived, either by accident or pre- 
cautionary regulations, of an opportunity to regenerate. 
A consoling reflection, on which the extirpation, or at 
least banishment of them from certain districts depends ; 
and of the truth of which we may be convinced by 
finding that some of these poisons, such as those of 
the pla"gue and leprosy, have, by wise establishments, 
been driven from among civilized nations. But this 
consequence is also equally well founded, that, by a 
new concurrence of uncommon circumstances and cor- 
ruption in the bodies of animals, an entirely new poison 
of the like kind, hitherto unknown in the world, may 
be again created. 

Before all these kinds of poison, however, can have 
effect, there is necessary, not only a communication or 


infection from without, but also a certain disposition or 
sensibility of the body. Hence that remarkable pheno- 
menon, that many can be poisoned very easily, some 
with difficulty, and many not at all : nay that many of 
these poisons can affect us only once, because, by being 
once poisoned, the whole sensibility of the body, in 
regard to the infection, is destroyed ; as we find to be 
the case in the smallpox and measles. 

Infection may apparently be communicated in a great 
variety of ways ; but it is always confined to this simple 
principle, that immediate contact with the poison is 
necessary before it can be conveyed to another. This, 
however, must be properly understood. One may come 
into immediate contact with the poison, either by touch- 
ing the body of a diseased person, or any other body 
with which the poison is united, or to which it has at- 
tached itself; as, for example, clothes, fwrniture, etc. 
A few poisons of this kind have the property of diffus- 
ing themselves through the atmosphere, as those of the 
smallpox, measles, and putrid fevers ; but this con- 
taminated air remains poisonous only in the neighbor- 
hood of the diseased, or, in other words, the atmos- 
phere only around the diseased person is poisonous. If 
it be, however, mixed with and thinned by purer air, 
like every other poisonous solution, it ceases at length 
to have a poisonous effect ; that is to say, the poison 
cannot be conveyed by the atmosphere to any great 

My principal view here is to enable that part of the 
public unacquainted with physic to guard against these 
poisons ; or, what cannot be a matter of indifference to 
any person of benevolence, to avoid communicating the 


poison to others when one is infected. I shall, there- 
fore, first, give a few rules how people may secure 
themselves from infection in general ; and then treat 
singly of those kinds of poison which appear most com- 
monly among us, and show how they may be dis- 
tinguished and avoided. 

The best means by which people, in general, may 
secure themselves from infection of every kind, consist 
in the following rules : 

1st. Pay the utmost attention to cleanliness ; for the 
greater part of the poisons of this kind are conveyed to 
us through the external surface of our bodies : and it is 
fully proved, that poison, already communicated, has 
been by cleanliness removed before it could actually 
produce any bad effect. I here allude, in particular, to 
frequent washing, bathing, rinsing the mouth, combing 
the hair, andoften changing the linen, clothes, and bed. 

2nd. Be careful to admit pure air into your apart- 
ments, to enjoy the free air often, and to give the body 
proper exercise. By these means, one will preserve 
the perspiration and vital power of the skin ; and the 
more active these are, the less danger is to be appre- 
hended from external infection. 

3rd. Let people endeavor to keep themselves in 
good spirits, and preserve serenity of mind. Such a 
disposition is best calculated to support the counteract- 
ing power of the body, free perspiration, and the out- 
ward tendency of the juices, by which the catching of 
infection is much prevented. This rule is particularly 
to be recommended where putrid fevers prevail ; and 
there also a glass of good wine may be serviceable. 

4th. Avoid coming into close contact with people, 


the physical state of whose bodies you do not perfectly 
know ; and, in particular, beware of touching them with 
parts which have no skin, or one exceedingly delicate 
and tender ; such as wounds, the lips ; as, by these, in- 
fection is soonest imbibed. Of the like nature is the 
touching of substances which a little before may have 
been used by others. 

5th. When infectious diseases are prevalent in any 
district, I would strongly advise people not to go abroad 
at night, because one imbibes infection much more 
readily in the night than the daytime. 


Old age. Premature ingrafting of it on youth. 

Tins is the most unavoidable of all those means that 
tend to shorten life. It is a secret thief, as Shakspeare 
calls it, the necessary consequence of life itself : for, by 
the vital process, our vessels must become gradually 
more desiccated and unfit for use, our juices more acrid 
and less, the smaller vessels shrivelled, the organs in- 
capable of performing their functions ; and the earthy 
part, the surest means of our destruction, must gain a 

It cannot, therefore, be altogether prevented. The 
question only will be : Is it in our power to bring it on 
sooner or later? And, unfortunately, this question 
must be answered in the affirmative. Modern times 
afford us astonishing instances of the possibility of 
bringing on premature old age, and of causing the pe- 
riods of life to follow each other much more rapidly. 
We may see at present, particularly in great cities, men 
come to maturity in their eighth year ; in their six- 
teenth, attain to the highest point possible of their 
perfection ; in their twentieth, struggling with every 
infirmity, a proof that they are already on the decline ; 
and in their thirtieth, have every appearance of ex- 
hausted age, such as wrinkles, dryness and stiffness of 
the joints, a crooked spine, loss of sight and memory, 


grey hair, and a tremulous voice. I once dissected the 
body of such an artificial old man, who had scarcely 
attained the age of forty ; and found not only his hair 
grey, but the cartilages of the ribs, which do not be- 
come bones until the greatest age, totally ossified. 

One, therefore, can imitate by art, in our climates, 
that hastening of the periods of expansion as well as of 
old age, which, in warm countries, takes place naturally. 

I must now say a few words on the art of ingrafting 
old age on youth. This is done by weakening very 
early the vital power as well as the juices, and giving 
to the vessels the highest possible degree of hardness, 
stiffness, and want of pliability, which characterizes old 

I shall here lay before my readers the surest means 
to accomplish this, as it is of importance to know sucii 
prescriptions, in order that people may be better 
enabled to counteract them. If one, therefore, will only 
live altogether contrary to the following rules, one may 
be enabled to preserve one's self in a state of youth to 
an advanced period of life. 

1st. Endeavor, by every art physical and moral, to 
attain to maturity as speedily as possible, and waste the 
vital power with as much profusion as possible. 

2nd. Begin very early to expose yourself to the 
utmost fatigue. Forced journeys of several days, con- 
tinual dancing, sitting up all night, and shortening every 
period of rest, will, in this respect, be of most service. 
By these means you will accomplish two objects, that 
of speedily exhausting the vital power, and that of 
making the vessels soon hard and brittle. 

3rd. Drink abundance of wine and strong liquors. 


This is an excellent prescription to desiccate the body, 
and to make it become shrivelled. 

4th. Care, fear, and sorrow, are extraordinarily well 
calculated to bring on, very early, every characteristic 
of old age. We have instances of persons acquiring 
grey hair in the course of one night spent under the 
highest degree of grief and terror. Now, one might 
believe, that certain causes are absolutely necessary to 
produce these affections: but there are people who 
understand, in. a masterly manner, the art of seeing 
everything in a melancholy light, of dreading some evil 
from every man, and pf finding in the most common 
circumstances abundant matter to excite wretchedness 
and misery. 

5th. That system, carried too far, or at least badly 
understood, of hardening the organs by the means of 
cold, bathing frequently and for a long time in cold 
water ; nothing can be more proper to produce every 
symptom of age. 

But it is not enough that people now attain old age, 
in a period during which our ancestors were still young : 
they unfortunately go further. They have found out 
the art of bringing into the world children with old age 
upon them. Such phenomena I have sometimes seen. 
These shrivelled beings enter upon the stage of life with 
the strongest features of age; and, after two weeks 
spent amidst misery and crying, they close their aged 
life, or rather begin existence by ending it. But I 
shall draw a veil over these horrid productions of 
parental dissipation, which appear to me like the em- 
bodied sins of the parents. 



Good physical descent. 

IF we take a retrospective view of the principles on 
which longevity depends, and the properties necessary 
for promoting it, we shall readily perceive that much in 
particular will depend on the mass from which we are 
formed ; what quantity of vital power is communicated 
to us at our creation ; and whether a foundation be 
then laid for a strong or a weak constitution, a sound 
or a diseased structure of the vital organs. All this is 
intimately connected with the healthful state of our 
parents, and the important point of our first existence ; 
and in that sense, to be of good birth is what ought to 
be wished in regard to every man. It commonly be- 
longs to those unknown yet important benefits which 
we receive ; and is a means of prolonging life. This 
advantage, however, we are not able to procure to our- 
selves ; but we have it in our power, and it is our duty 
to communicate it to others. 

Three points are here to be considered: the state of 
health in which the parents are ; the moment of genera- 
tion ; and the period of pregnancy. 


1st. The state of health, or the vital stock of the pa- 
rents. How important this is may be seen by the 
instance of whole families in which longevity has been 
as it were a privilege ; like the family of the before- 
mentioned Parr, who not only attained to a great age 
himself, but also his father and children. In the lon- 
gevity of parents lies a great ground for enabling their 
children to attain to the same. This, therefore, ought 
to be a powerful motive to induce those who intend to 
have children to spare and preserve their vital power 
as much as possible. We are a copy of our parents, 
not merely in regard to the common form and texture, 
but in respect to particular weaknesses and faults of 
single parts. A foundation even for diseases, which 
have their root in our structure and constitution, may 
be thus communicated. I am convinced, above all, 
bv repeated experience, that great weakening of the 
constitution by early excesses, communicates to children 
a peculiar weakness of the glandular and lymphatic 
system, which ends in the scrofula, as it is called ; and 
occasions this disease to appear in the first months of 
life, or even at the very birth. The too youthful or too 
great age of the parents is likewise prejudicial to the 
strength and vital duration of the children. 

2nd. The moment of generation. This is of much 
more importance than commonly believed, and has 
great influence, both in a moral and physical view, on 
the life of the future being. The first germ of a new 
creature is here quickened ; the first vital power is 
communicated to it. How much must the perfection or 
imperfection of the produce be determined by a perfect 
or imperfect, sound or a diseased condition of the active 


causes ? Is it not to be wished that parents would pay 
some attention to this remark, and never forget that the 
above moment is of the utmost importance ; that it is 
the moment of creation ; and that Nature, not without 
reason, has connected with it the highest exaltation of 
our existence ? However difficult it may be to collect 
observations from experience on this subject, I have 
known some undeniable instances where children, 
begotten in the moment of intoxication, remained stupid 
and idiots during their whole life. Now, what can be 
effected by the highest extremity, may be done, on a 
small scale, by a mean degree , and why should it not 
be admitted, that a being procreated at the period of 
ill-humour, bodily indisposition, or nervous debility, may 
carry with it, during its whole existence, some- small 
particles of these evils ? Hence the evident preference 
of the child of love to the children of duty. In my 
opinion, therefore, it is of the utmost importance, even 
in the married state, that this moment should be con- 
fined to a period when the sensation of collected powers, 
ardent passion, and a mind cheerful and free from care, 
invites to it on both sides ; and this forms a new ground 
against the too frequent, forced, or mechanical enjoy- 
ment of wedded love. 

3rd. The period of pregnancy. Though the father, 
without doubt, is the original source from which the 
future being acquires its first quickening, its earliest 
breath of life, the general mass and most material part 
proceeds entirely from the mother. The latter is the 
soil from which the seed derives its juices ; and the 
future constitution, the proper substance of the child, 


must principally assume the character of that being of 
whom it makes so long a part, and of whose flesh and 
blood it is actually composed. Besides, not only the* 
constitution of the mother, but also other favorable or 
unfavorable causes, during the time of pregnancy, must 
have a great influence on the whole formation and life 
of the being. This is confirmed by experience. The 
child's state of health, and the greater or less strength 
of its constitution are determined, in a particular man- 
ner, much more according to the condition of the mother, 
than that of the father. By a weakly father a robust 
child can always be produced, provided the mother 
have a sound and vigorous body. The substance of 
the father is, as it were, in her ennobled. On the other 
hand, the strongest man will never obtain a lively, 
healthy child from a mother who is weak and sickly. 
"With regard to the protection of the child during 
pregnancy against all dangers and hurtful effects, we 
find a regulation which displays the provident care of 
Divine Wisdom. Though the most intimate connection 
subsists between it and the mother, and though for 
nearly a year it forms a part of her, and partakes of 
her nourishment and juices, it is secured not only 
against accidental injuries by its situation and floating 
in a watery element, but also against moral and ner- 
vous impressions by there being no nervous connection 
between it and the mother. We have, therefore, nu- 
merous instances of the mother dying, while the child 
continued alive. Nature has even conjoined with this 
state a certain immunity from sickness ; and it is a 
principle established by experience, that a pregnant 


woman suffers much less from infectious and otjier 
causes of disease ; and that a female has never a greater 
probability of living than while in that condition. 

So much have mankind been, at all times, impressed 
with the importance of this period, that, among ancient 
nations, a pregnant woman was considered as a person 
sacred and secure from injury, and that every one who 
hurt or ill-treated her was thought deserving of double 
punishment. Our age, unfortunately, has here made a 
difference, both in a physical and a political view. The 
weak nerved, sensible, and delicate constitution of the 
female sex, at present, renders the preservation of the 
fruit in the mother's womb much more uncertain and 
dangerous. The womb of the mother is no longer a 
place of safety, the undisturbed atelier of Nature. 
Through that unnatural sensibility which is now so pe- 
culiar to a great part of our women, they have become 
far more susceptible of a thousand prejudicial effects, a 
multitude of passions ; and the fruit suffers by every 
mental affection, every alarm, every cause of disease, 
and even by the most trifling accident. It is, therefore, 
impossible that a child, in a place where its formation 
and expansion are every moment interrupted and dis- 
turbed, should acquire that degree of perfection and 
strength to which it was destined. And yet little 
attention do mankind pay, either in a civil or political 
point of view, to the importance of this condition. 
Who thinks, at present, on the sacredness of a pregnant 
woman ; or, who regulate their behavior to her, by re- 
flecting that the life, or at any rate the physical and 
moral formation, of a future being may thereby be en- 
dangered ? Nay, how few pregnant women take that 


care of this condition which it deserves ! and how few 
are able to deny themselves that pleasure and those 
gratifications which may be attended with mischief! 

In my opinion, therefore, the following rules may, 
with great propriety, be founded on these observations : 

1st. Such highly weak nerved and sensible people 
ought never to marry ; if not through a regard for them- 
selves, and on account of the sufferings which they may 
thereby avoid, at any rate out of compassion for the 
miserable race of which they would be authors. In the 
education of daughters, people above all things should 
be attentive to guard against this unfortunate sensi- 
bility ; because, from a regard for the complection, for 
appearance, and a multitude of other points which be- 
long merely to etiquette, a contrary conduct is observed. 
And lastly, it is the duty of every man, when he chooses 
a wife, to be particularly careful that her nervous sys- 
tem be not too irritable. Should this be the case, the 
principal object of marriage, to produce sound and 
robust children, is entirely lost. 

2nd. Women ought to pay more attention to this 
period, and to observe a good moral as well as physical 
regimen ; for they have then in their power the degree 
of perfection or imperfection, of the good or bad struc- 
ture of the mind and body of their child. 

3rd. Men in general should have respect for a preg- 
nant woman in this point of view ; and, as the deposi- 
tary of a human being during its state of formation, 
treat her with every care, tenderness, and attention. 
Every husband, in particular, ought to make this a 
duty ; and to reflect that he thereby watches over the 
life and health of his offspring, and deserves, in the 
fullest sense, the title of father. 


Prudent physical education. 

THE physical treatment during the two first years of 
existence is, in particular, a very important circum- 
stance in regard to the prolongation of life. That 
period ought properly to be considered as a continued 
generation. The first part only of formation and ex- 
pansion takes place in the mother's womb ; the second, 
which is no less important, takes place externally dur- 
ing the two first years of life. A child comes into the 
world as a being only half finished. The most im- 
portant and delicate expansion, that of the nerves and 
organs of the soul, the organs of respiration, the mus- 
cular system, the teeth, the bones, the organs of speech, 
and all the other parts, both in regard to form and 
structure, now follows. One may readily comprehend, 
therefore, what influence the different circumstances, 
under which this continued process of formation and 
expansion is carried on, whether they act so as to im- 
pede, derange, and weaken, or to accelerate, must have 
on the perfection and duration of life. A foundation: 
may certainly be here laid for slow or rapid consump- 
tion ; for a body exposed to more or to fewer dangers. 

All the precepts and rules respecting this period may 
be reduced to the following principles : 

1st. All the organs, but in particular those on which 


health and the duration of physical as well as spiritual 
life chiefly depend, must be completely formed, exer- 
cised, and brought to the highest degree of perfection. 
Among these I reckon the stomach, the lungs, the skin, 
the heart, the vascular system, and the organs of thought. 
A foundation may be laid for good lungs, by pure open 
air ; and afterwards, by speaking, singing, running ; 
for a sound stomach by wholesome food, easy of di- 
gestion ; but neither too strong and stimulating, nor 
too highly seasoned : for a sound skin, by cleanliness, 
washing, bathing, pure air, a temperature, neither too 
hot nor too cold, and, afterwards, by exercise : and for 
a strong heart and vessels, by all the above means ; in 
particular, by wholesome nourishment, and afterwards 
by bodily motion. 

2nd. The successive expansion of the physical and 
spiritual powers must be properly supported; and be 
neither impeded, nor too much promoted. Attention 
must be always paid to an uniform distribution of the 
vital power ; for harmony and equality in the motions 
are the foundation of health and life. Bathing and free 
air will contribute to this in the beginning, and after- 
wards bodily exercise. 

3rd. The sensation of the body in regard to disease, 
that is to say, its susceptibility of the causes of disease, 
must be hardened and blunted ; as also its sensation 
of cold and heat, and afterwards that of small irregu- 
larities and fatigue. By these means two advantages 
will be gained ; vital consumption, by the sensibility 
being moderated, will be lessened ; and the derange- 
ment of it by diseases will be guarded against. 

4th. Every cause and germ of disease in the body 


must be removed and banished ; such as accumulations 
of phlegm, obstructions of the mesentery, and sharp 
acrid humors ; faults which may arise from external 
hurts and impressions, too confined bandages, want of 
strict cleanliness, etc. 

5th. The vital power itself must be always sufficiently 
nourished and strengthened, particularly by means of 
fresh air ; and the healing power of nature must, above 
all things, be supported from the beginning, because it 
is the principal means which lies in ourselves for render- 
ing the causes of disease ineffectual. This may be done 
chiefly by not accustoming the body at first too much 
to artificial assistance ; otherwise Nature will be so 
used that she will depend on foreign aid, and at length 
lose altogether the power of assisting herself. 

6th. The whole operation of life and vital consumption 
must not at first be put into too great activity but be 
preserved in a moderate state ; by which means its tone 
may be regulated for the whole life, and also for a slow 
and a long life. 

The following simple means, which, in my opinion, 
form the principal part of physical education, may 
serve for accomplishing what is contained in the above 

We must here, however, distinguish two periods. 
The first period is from birth to the end of the 
second year ; and the chief points to be observed are as 
follow : 

I. The nourishment must be good, but suited to that 
tender age ; easy of digestion, rather fluid than solid ; 
fresh and sound ; nutritive, but not too strong, stimulat- 
ing, or heating. 


Nature, here, is our best guide ; as she has destined 
milk to be the earliest food of man. Milk possesses 
all the above qualities, in the most perfect degree : it 
is full of nutritive substance, but mild and nourishing, 
without heating or stimulating : it holds a mean rank 
between animal and vegetable food ; unites the advan- 
tage of the latter, that of being less stimulating than 
flesh, with all the advantages of flesh : that is to say, 
its being already assimilated to us by preparation in a 
living animal body, which makes it more easily assume 
the character of our substance ; and, in a word, it is 
altogether suited to the nature of an infant. 

The body of a child lives quicker than that of a full- 
grown man, and changes oftener its component parts. 
Besides, it requires nourishment, not merely for its sup- 
port, but for its continual growth, which is never so 
rapid during the whole course of life as the first year. 
It is evident, therefore, that it has occasion for abun- 
dance of concentrated nourishment ; but as its powers of 
digestion are weak, it is not able to prepare and assimi- 
late food that is solid or heterogeneous to its nature ; 
such, for example, as vegetables. Its nourishment must 
then be fluid, and already animalized ; that is, be prepared 
and rendered like its nature in another animal body. 
It has, however, a great degree of irritability and sensi- 
bility ; so that a small irritation, which a grown-up 
person would scarcely feel, may in it produce an artifi- 
cial fever, or the cramp and convulsions. The nourish- 
ment of a child must on this account be mild, and ex- 
actly suited to its irritability. 

I consider it, therefore, as one of the first laws of 
Nature, and a principal ground for a long and healthy 


life, that a child should be nourished, during the whole of 
the first year, by the milk of its mother, or of a sound 

From this law of Nature people in modern times 
make many deviations, which undoubtedly have the 
most prejudicial influence on the duration of life and 
health, and which I must therefore here mention. 

Some have attempted to nourish and educate chil- 
dren by slimy vegetable substances. These sometimes, 
and in particular cases, may be useful, but, without 
any other food, are certainly hurtful ; for they do not 
afford sufficient nourishment, and, what is worse, do 
not become properly animalized, and retain still a part 
of their sour vegetable nature in the body of the child. 
Such food, therefore, produces weak meagre childien, 
continually tormented with acidities at the stomach, 
sour eructations, phlegm, obstructions in the glands, and 
the scrofula. 

Still worse is the custom of nourishing children with 
flour-pap ; for this food, besides the disadvantage of its 
acid nature, as being a vegetable aliment, obstructs the 
tender lacteal vessels, and those of the mesentery ; and 
lays a certain foundation for the scrofula and consump- 
tion of the lungs. 

Others, to avoid these evils, and partly through an- 
glomania, make choice of flesh nutriment for their 
children, and give them wine, beer, and other things 
of the like kind. This prejudice deserves in particular 
to be reprobated, because it seems daily to gain more 
advocates, because it agrees with the exciting method 
so much approved at present, and because the mischief 
it occasions is not always sufficiently attended to by 


physicians. People say, in common, flesh is strength- 
ening; and that is precisely what a child requires. 
But the grounds on which I found a contrary opinion 
are as follows : There must always be a certain rela- 
tion between the nourishment and the body to be nour- 
ished, between the irritation and the irritability. The 
greater the irritability, the stronger is the effect which 
may be produced by a small irritation ; the smaller the 
former, the effect of the latter will be so much weaker. 
Now, this irritability in human life is always in an in- 
verse ratio to the age. In the first period of life it is 
strongest ; and it every year becomes weaker, till it is 
entirely extinguished by old age. We may therefore 
say that milk, in regard to its irritating and strengthen- 
ing power, is as exactly proportioned to a child, as flesh 
to an adult, or wine to an old man. But if one give 
flesh nourishment to a child too soon, one gives it an 
irritation like that occasioned by wine to grown-up per- 
sons, which is much too strong, and not destined for it 
by Nature. The consequences are, that a kind of arti- 
ficial fever is produced and kept up in the child, that 
the circulation of the blood is accelerated, its warmth 
increased, and that a habit with a tendency to violent 
inflammatory disorders is created. Such a child has a 
full blooming look ; but the slightest cause may occasion 
a violent commotion in the blood ; and when it arrives 
at the period of teething, or if attacked by the small- 
pox, or any other kind of fever, when the tendency of 
the blood to the head is so strong, one may rest assured 
that some inflammatory disorder, convulsions, or apo- 
plexy will ensue. People in general believe that one 
can die only through weakness ; but one may die also 


through too much strength and irritation ; and this may 
take place by the injudicious use of irritating things. 
Besides, by giving such strong nourishment to children, 
one accelerates, from the beginning, their vital opera- 
tion and consumption ; the whole system and organs 
are put into too great activity ; a foundation is origi- 
nally laid for a more vigorous but a quicker life ; and, 
under the idea of strengthening, one really establishes 
the principal cause of a short life. One also ought not 
to forget that, by this early use of flesh nourishment, 
the expansive process of teething, and afterwards that 
of manhood, are hastened too much, a great means of 
shortening life ; and that it has a bad influence on the 
whole character. All carnivorous men and animals 
are violent, cruel, and passionate ; while, on the o*her 
hand, the use of vegetable food inclines men more to 
mildness and humanity. This I have often found con- 
firmed by experience. Children who had used flesh too 
early, and in too great quantity, became always strong 
men, but passionate, violent, and brutal ; and I very 
much doubt whether such a disposition be fortunate, 
either for the individuals, or for mankind in general. 
There are certainly cases in which the early use of 
flesh nourishment may be useful, particularly for weak 
children, educated without the mother's milk, and who 
suffer from acidities ; but it is then to be considered 
as a medicine, and must be regulated and the quantity 
determined by a physician. What I have said respect- 
ing flesh is applicable still more to wine, coffee, choco- 
late, spiceries, and the like. It is, therefore, a very 
important rule, in regard to the physical education of 
children, that a child, during the first half-year, should 


taste no flesh, no flesh soups, no beer, and no coffee ; 
but be nourished merely by the milk of its mother. In 
the second half-year, light soups may be admitted ; but 
flesh itself ought never to be given till the teeth have 
appeared, that is, till the end of the second year. 

But as many insuperable circumstances may occur to 
prevent a child from being educated in the natural 
manner in which it ought ; such, for example, as the 
nervous weakness of the mother, or her sickly asthmatic 
state, by which the child would lose more than it could 
gain in regard to its vital duration ; and if a sound 
nurse cannot be procured, the melancholy necessity then 
arises of educating the child artificially ; and though this 
method is always injurious, in some measure, to the 
health as well as duration of life, it may be rendered 
less prejudicial by observing the following precepts: 
Let the child, at least, where it is possible, derive its 
nourishment from its mother for the first fortnight, or 
month. One cannot imagine of how much benefit this is 
in the first period. As the best substitute for the moth- 
er's milk, sheep or ass's milk may then be given ; but 
always immediately after it has been milked, and while 
it yet retains its natural warmth. It would be still bet- 
ter to let the child suck the animal. Should this be 
impracticable, let the child have a mixture of cow's milk 
and water, always lukewarm ; and fresh milk, at least 
once every day. A remark of some importance here 
is, that one must not warm the milk, (otherwise it as- 
sumes a certain character of acidity,) but only the 
water which is added to it. With this artificial nourish- 
ment it is necessary to give, somewhat sooner, pap 
made of biscuit, pounded very fine, barley, sago, or 


saloop, boiled with half milk and water ; also light, but 
not fat, bouillis and egg-water ; that is, the yolk of an 
egg beat up in a pint of water and mixed with a little 
sugar. Potatoes during the first two years are preju- 
dicial. However little I consider them unhealthful in 
general, they are certainly too hard of digestion for so 
tender a stomach, as they are of a clammy viscid nature. 

II. Let the child, after the third week, (earlier in 
summer, but later in winter,) enjoy the free air every 
day, and continue this practice without any interruption 
on account of the weather. 

A perfect similarity prevails here between children 
and plants. Give the latter the richest nourishment 
and warmth, but deprive them of air and light, they will 
become pale, withered, and stunted, and at length die. 
The use of pure free air, and of the vital component 
parts which it contains, is a nourishment as indispensa- 
bly necessary for the support of life as eating and 
drinking. I have known people who remained weak 
and pale-colored throughout their whole lives, because 
they were nurtured during their first years like plants 
in a hothouse ; whereas, on the other hand, the daily 
use of light and free air is the only means to produce a 
blooming complexion, and to communicate strength and 
energy sufficient to last one's whole life. This advan- 
tage also is of great importance, that a person is there- 
by enabled afterwards to bear, without injury, varia- 
tions of heat and cold. 

It is most beneficial when the child enjoys the free 
air in a place covered with grass and trees, at a little 
distance from one's habitation. The enjoyment of air 
in the streets of a city is far less wholesome. 


III. Let the body of the child be washed daily with 
fresh cold water: a rule indispensably necessary for 
cleansing and invigorating the skin ; for strengthening 
the whole nervous system ; and for laying the founda- 
tion of a sound and long life. 

This practice of washing ought to commence at the 
birth ; but during the first week lukewarm water must 
be used ; cold water ought to be employed afterwards, 
and it is of great importance that it be fresh drawn from 
a spring or running stream ; for water contains fixed 
air which evaporates when it has stood any time, and 
which communicates to it a very strengthening quality. 
The child, however, must be washed speedily ; and its 
body ought to be immediately rubbed and dried : for 
slow bathing cools, but speedy friction warms. Lastly, 
it should not be washed when it just comes from bed, 
nor, in general, while it perspires. 

IV. Every week it ought to be bathed once or twice 
in tepid water, warmed to the temperature of new milk, 
or from 86 to 91 of Fahrenheit's thermometer. 

This excellent practice unites in it such an extraor- 
dinary number of virtues, and is at the same time so 
suited to the age of infancy, that I may call it a real 
arcanum for bringing to perfection and forming the 
future man. Cleansing and invigorating the skin, free 
but not accelerated expansion of the powers and organs, 
uniform circulation, harmonious acting in concert of the 
whole (the foundation of health), strengthening the 
nervous system, moderating the too great irritability of 
the vessels and too rapid vital consumption, purifying 
the juices, are all its effects ; and I can, with confidence, 
assert that I am acquainted with no assistant means of 


physical education which possess in so high a degree, 
every requisite for laying the foundation of a long and 
healthful life. The bath must not consist entirely of 
boiled water, but of water fresh drawn from a well, to 
which some hot water, sufficient to bring it to a luke- 
warm temperature, has been added. In summer that 
water is best which has been warmed by the rays of 
the sun. The bathing should be continued, at this 
period of age, a quarter of an hour each time, and after- 
wards longer. It ought never to be used during the 
first hour after eating. 

V. Be careful not to keep a child too warm : that is, 
avoid warm rooms, warm beds, and clothing. Keeping 
too warm increases irritability in a great degree, and 
gives occasion also to speedier vital consumption ; it 
debilitates and relaxes the vessels, accelerates expan- 
sion, weakens and deadens the skin, disposes the body 
to continual perspiration, and thus renders it always 
liable to injury from cold. I consider it of great im- 
portance to accustom children to sleep from their in- 
fancy on mattresses made of horsehair, chaff, or moss. 
These never acquire too much heat ; have more elas- 
ticity, and prevent too great tenderness. They oblige 
the child also, as they do not yield to pressure, to lie 
straight and extended ; by which means they guard 
against overgrowth, and the premature excitement of 
their organic system. 

VI. Let the clothing be wide, in no manner confined ; 
and made of some substance not too warm to check per- 
spiration, such as fur, but of stuff that can be often 
renewed or washed. Cotton is the best ; and during 
the severity of winter, light woollen stuffs. Avoid all 



close bandages, stiff stays, small shoes ; for these may 
give occasion to diseases which will afterwards shorten 
life. The head, from the fourth to the eighth week, 
must be kept quite bare ; but this ought to be deter- 
mined by the season of the year. 

VII. Pay the utmost attention to cleanliness ; that is, 
change the shirt daily ; the clothing every week : the 
bed-clothes every month ; and remove every cause of 
noxious evaporation ; in particular do not suffer too 
many people to be in the nursery ; and allow no clothes 
to be dried, or any foul linen to remain in it. Cleanli- 
ness for children is one-half of their life : the cleaner 
they are kept the more will they prosper and thrive. 
By cleanliness alone, with very moderate nourishment, 
they may in a short time be rendered strong, vigorous, 
and lively ; whereas, without cleanliness, even with the 
richest nourishment, they will continue sickly and weak. 
Want of attention to this precept is the cause why so 
many children pine away and are consumed without 
any visible reason. Ignorant people imagine that they 
must be bewitched, or under the influence of some evil 
spirit ; but dirt alone is the demon by which they are 
tormented, and which in the end will undoubtedly 
destroy them. 

The second period is from the end of the second to 
the twelfth or fourteenth year ; and I here recommend 
the following precepts ; 

I. Let the rules respecting cleanliness, washing with 
cold water, bathing, light clothing, and living in free air 
be observed according to the foregoing directions. 

II. The food must not be too delicate and artificial, 
or too coarse. It will be best in this period to allow 


children a sufficient mixture of flesh and vegetables ; 
and to accustom them to every thing, but neither to eat 
too much nor too often. People may rest assured that, 
if they put in practice all the other rules respecting 
physical education, bodily exercise, and cleanliness, 
neither delicate nor coarse food will be requisite to 
make a child healthy. For the truth of this observa- 
tion we need only look at the children of rustics, who, 
without being fed according to medical precepts, are 
perfectly strong and sound. But one, indeed, ought 
not here, as is too often the case, to give a child rustic 
fare, and at the same time to indulge it with a soft 
feather bed, to confine it to the house, and accustom it 
to idleness ; nor to employ the cold bath, while a child, 
in other respects, is enervated by most delicate treat- 
ment. I cannot repeat too often what I have before 
said, that a principal point of education is to preserve 
an uniform tone, and not to unite two opposite methods 
of management. It will be quite sufficient if a child, 
during this period, is allowed four meals every day. 
The only things which it ought not to touch are spi- 
ceries, coffee, chocolate, seasoning, confections, fat heavy 
puddings, and cheese.* For drink nothing is better 
than water. In such places only where Nature has 
denied pure spring water, I allow children to be accus- 
tomed to beer. 

III. As bodily exercise now becomes an important 

* I cannot conceive ITufeland's reasons for objecting to cheese, 
unless, perchance, it were less well made in the eighteenth than in 
the nineteenth century. I regard it as a wholesome article of 
diet for children, and a good compromise between meat and vege- 
table diet. EDITOR. 


part of physical education, let a child spend the greater 
part of the day in gymnastic sports of every kind, and 
in the open air, where they are always most service- 
able. This strengthens in an incredible degree ; gives 
peculiar activity to the body, uniform diffusion to the 
powers and juices ; and guards, in the surest manner, 
against faults in the growth and formation. 

IV. The powers of the mind must not be exerted too 
early. It is a great prejudice, that people imagine 
they cannot make a child begin to learn too soon. But 
it is certain that a child may begin too soon, when that 
period is chosen during which Nature is still employed 
in forming the bodily powers and organs, and has need 
of all their strength for that purpose. This period 
extends to the seventh year ; and if a child be obliged 
at an earlier age to apply to learning, and be confined 
in a sitting posture, its body will be deprived of the 
noblest part of its powers, which must be now wasted 
by the business of thinking ; and the consequences will 
be, a checking of the growth, imperfect formation of the 
limbs, muscular weakness, bad digestion, corrupt juices, 
the scrofula, and a preponderance of the nervous system 
in the whole machine, which will become burdensome 
during life, by nervous affections, the hypochondriasis, 
and evils of the like kind. Much, however, will here 
depend on the difference of constitution, and the greater 
or less vigor of mind ; but I earnestly request that 
parents and others will in this respect pursue a method 
directly contrary to that usually followed. If a child 
show an early disposition for thinking and learning, one 
ought, instead of straining its powers the more, as is 
commonly the case, to prevent it from application till a 


later period ; for such premature ripeness is generally 
a disease, at any rate an unnatural state, which ought 
rather to be checked than promoted, unless one wishes 
to breed up a monster of erudition rather than a sound 
healthful man. 

I must here remark, that a great many of the evils 
which attend too early study, may not arise so much 
from exerting the powers of the mind, as from confine- 
ment and sitting, and from the corrupted air of schools 
in which children are taught. At any rate, the weaken- 
ing is thus doubled. I am fully persuaded that it would 
be much less injurious if children were made to perform 
their school business in the open air during the fine 
seasons ; and here, at the same time, would they have 
before them the book of Nature, which, supposing that 
the pupils are capable of reading and understanding it, 
is much more fit and proper for their first instruction 
than all the books that ever were written or printed. 


Active and laborious youth. 

IT appears that all those who attained to a great age 
were men who, in their youth, had been much ac- 
customed to labor and fatigue ; such as soldiers, 
sailors, and day laborers. I shall here mention only 
Mittelstadt, that veteran of 112, who in his fifteenth 
year was a servant, and in his eighteenth a soldier ; 
and who was present in all the Prussian wars, from the 
commencement of the monarchy. 

A youth spent in that manner, becomes the founda- 
tion of a long and a strong life, two ways : partly by 
giving the body that degree of strength and solidity 
which is necessary for its duration ; and partly by mak- 
ing that possible which principally contributes to pro- 
mote happiness and longevity, advancement to a better 
and more agreeable situation. He who in his youth 
has every convenience and enjoyment in abundance 
hath nothing more to expect ; he is deprived of ttye best 
means of exciting and preserving the vital power, hope, 
and the prospect of a better condition. If he be con- 
demned then with increasing years to poverty and diffi- 
culties, he finds himself doubly oppressed ; and the du- 
ration of his life must be necessarily shortened. But 
in the transition from a state of misery to one more 
fortunate, lies a continual source of new joy, new vigor, 


and new life. In the like manner, the passage, with 
increasing years, from a raw cold climate, to one more 
mild, contributes much to prolong life ; as also the 
change from a state of labor to one more convenient 
and agreeable. 



Abstinence from physical love in youth, and a too early assumption 
of the married state. 

He who in Pleasure's downy arms 
Ne'er lost his health or yonthfal charms, 

A hero lives ; and justly can 

Exclaim, " In me behold a man! " 

He prospers like the slender reed 

Whose top waves gently o'er the mead ; 

And moves, such blessings virtue follow, 
In health and beauty an Apollo. 

That power divine, which him inspires, 
His breast with noblest passions fires ; 

These heavenwards soar with eagle-flight, 
And $purn the cold, dark realms of night. 

So full of majesty, a god, 

Shall earth alone be his abode ? 
With dignity he steps, he stands, 

And nothing fears ; for he commands. 

Like drops drawn from the crystal stream, 
His eyes with pearly brilliance beam ; 

With blushing signs of health o'erspread, 
His cheeks surpass the morning's red. 

The fairest of the female train 

For him shall bloom, nor bloom in vain : 
O happy she whose lips he presses ! 

happy she whom he caresses ! BUEGEB. 


THERE was a time when the German youth never 
thought of intimacy with the other sex till their twenty- 
fourth or twenty-fifth year ; and yet nothing was then 
known of the pernicious consequences of this chastity, 
nor of many other imaginary evils of which people now 
dream : but these youths, increasing in strength as well 
as growth, became men who, by their size, excited the 
astonishment even of the Romans. 

People now leave off at the period when these began. 
They imagine they can never soon enough throw off 
their chastity ; and young persons, long before their 
bodies are completely finished, begin to waste those 
powers which are destined for a higher use. The con- 
sequences are evident. These men become incomplete, 
half-formed beings ; and at the period when our ances- 
tors began to employ those powers, they, in them, are 
generally exhausted: they feel nothing but dejection 
and misery in their weakness; and a stimulus of the 
utmost importance for seasoning life is to them for ever 

It is incredible how far prejudice in this respect may 
be carried, especially when it flatters our inclination. I 
once knew a man who seriously believed that there was 
no poison more prejudicial to the human body than 
continence, and the consequence was, that he was an 
old man in his twentieth year, and in his twenty-fifth 
died of old age. 

The present age has fallen so much into the taste of 
the times of chivalry, that all romances must now as- 
sume that form in order to please; and one, indeed, 
cannot help admiring the great, noble, and resolute 
manner of thinking and acting of these old Germans. 


It appears that the more sensible we are how far we 
have degenerated from them, the more we are excited 
by their example, and the more we are inflamed with a 
desire to imitate their conduct. But what a happiness 
would it be if we did not think merely of the object, 
but of the means to obtain it. That by which these 
people acquired so much courage, so great powers both 
of body and mind, their bold, firm, and resolute char- 
acter, which made them real men in the utmost sense of 
the word, was, in particular, their strict continence. 
The youth of these men was destined to great exploits 
and undertakings, not to voluptuousness and dissipa- 
tion ; the physical propensity to love did not among 
them sink into mere animal enjoyment, but was exalted 
to a moral incitement to noble and heroic actions. Each 
bore in his heart the image of his beloved object, 
whether real or imaginary ; and this romantic love, this 
indissoluble attachment, was the shield of his continence 
and virtue, strengthened the powers of his body, and 
communicated to his mind courage and unalterable 
resolution, by continually directing its attention to his 
fair one smiling to him at a distance, and whose favor 
could be gained only by glorious achievements. How- 
ever romantic these notions may be, I find, on closer 
examination, great wisdom in this use of physical love, 
one of the strongest motives by which human nature is 
actuated. How widely different has the case become 
among us ! This propensity, which by prudent man- 
agement may be made the germ of the most exalted 
virtue, of the greatest heroism, has degenerated into 
whining sensibility, or mere sensual gratification, which 
people enjoy prematurely, and even to satiety; the 


passion of love, which in those periods was a security 
against dissipation, is at present the source of the great- 
est; the virtue of chastity, the principal foundation 
without doubt of moral firmness and manliness of char- 
acter, has become a subject of ridicule, and is decried 
as old-fashioned pedantry ; and what ought to be the 
last and sweetest reward of toil, labor, and danger, has 
become a flower which every stripling crops by the 
way. Why does Nature excite in our bosom this sigh- 
ing after union, this all-powerful, irresistible propensity 
to love ? Not, truly, to afford subjects for romance, or 
to make a figure in the ecstatic raptures of poetry ; but 
that it may serve as an indissoluble band to unite two 
hearts : to lay the grounds for a ha*ppy generation ; 
and that, by this magic tie, our existence may be con- 
nected with the first and the most sacred of all duties. 
How fortunate would it be were we here to imitate the 
ancient method, and never to pull the fruit till we had 
planted ! 

At present, we hear a great deal of strength and 
strong men : but I will believe nothing of it as long as 
I see that they have not strength enough to subdue 
their passions ; for, that is the only cause of triumph, 
as well as the only sign of mental strength : and chas- 
tity is the school in which youth ought to be exercised, 
and to form themselves for becoming strong men. 

We in general find, in the old world, that all those 
from whom any thing great or glorious was expected, 
were obliged to restrain physical love. So much were 
people then convinced that Venus absorbs the whole 
powers of man, and that those given up to dissipation 
could never attain an exalted position. 


Happy married state. 

IT is one of the falsest and most pernicious of preju- 
dices, that marriage is an invention merely political and 
conventional. It is much rather one of the most essen- 
tial parts of the destination of man, both for the individ- 
ual and the whole ; and an establishment absolutely 
necessary for the* education of mankind. By marriage 
I understand, a firm, sacred union of two persons, for 
the purpose of mutual support, and for giving origin to 
and educating children. And, in this intimate union, 
founded on so important an object, lies, in my opinion, 
the principal grounds of domestic as well as public 
felicity; since, in the first place, it is indispensably 
requisite for the moral perfection of mankind. By this 
close connection of two beings, this association of one's 
interest with that of another, is selfishness, the most 
dangerous enemy of all virtue, best subdued ; and man 
always more inclined to humanity and compassion for 
his fellow-creatures, and still brought nearer to his true 
state of moral exaltation. His wife and his children 
form an indissoluble bond, which unites him to the rest 
of mankind, and to the good of the whole : his heart is 
always warmed by the sweet sensation of matrimonial 
and parental tenderness, and defended from that dead- 
ening coldness which so easily overcomes the man who 


leads a solitary life ; and the endearing cares of a father 
impose on him duties which accustom him to order, 
industry, and habits of prudence. His passion for the 
sex is thereby ennobled, and, from a mere animal in- 
stinct, converted into one of the highest moral motives 
of action, and violent passions, ill-humor, and bad cus- 
toms, are thus best eradicated. Hence arises a very 
fortunate influence over the whole and the general good ; 
so that I can, with perfect confidence, affirm, that happy 
marriages are the most important supports of a State, 
and of public peace and felicity. A bachelor always 
remains a mere egotist ; restless and unsteady, a prey 
to selfish humors and passions ; less interested for 
mankind, for his country, and the State, than for himself. 
He is overcome by a false sentiment of liberty, which 
prevents him from entering into wedlock ; and this 
sentiment is still nourished and strengthened by the 
condition in which he lives. What can tend more to 
produce a fondness for change, sedition, and revolutions, 
than an increase of unmarried citizens ? How different 
is the case with the married ! That dependence on the 
other half, necessary in marriage, accustoms one con- 
tinually to a dependence on the laws ; regard for one's 
wife and children obliges one to be regular and indus- 
trious : by his children, a man is attached closely to the 
State ; its interest and prosperity by these means be- 
come his own; or, as Bacon expresses it, he who is 
married and has children, has given pledges to the State : 
he is a bondsman, a true citizen, and a real patriot. 
But, what is still more, a foundation is here laid, not 
only for the happiness of the present generation, but 
for that of the future also ; as it is the matrimonial 


union only that produces to the State good moral citi- 
zens, accustomed from their youth to regularity and an 
observance of their duty. One must not imagine that 
the State itself can supply this formation of the manners, 
this education which all- wise Nature hath connected with 
the hearts of a father and a mother. 

I shall now return to my principal object, to point 
out the beneficial influence which marriage has on the 
physical good of mankind. With the utmost propriety 
may it be classed among those means which tend to 
prolong life ; and my reasons are as follow : 

1st. Marriage is the only means to regulate love, and 
to direct it to its proper object. It equally prevents 
dissipation, and cold and unnatural indifference. How- 
ever much I have recommended continence in youth, 
convinced that it is indispensably necessary to promote 
long life, I am convinced also that there are certain years 
of manhood when it is as prejudicial to suppress by vio- 
lence the propensities of nature, as it is to yield to them 
before the proper period. It is required by the general 
law of harmony. No power in us must remain totally 
unexpanded ; each must be exercised in moderation. 

2nd. We are told by experience, that all those who 
attained to a very remarkable age were married. 

3rd. The married state promotes domestic joy, which 
is the purest, the most uniform, and the least wasting of 
all. It is undoubtedly that which is best suited to 
physical as well as moral health, and which can, with 
the greatest certainty, preserve the mind in that happy 
mean state most favorable to longevity. It tends to 
moderate overstrained hope and enthusiastic speculation, 
as well as excessive care. Every thing, by the par- 


ticipation of another being, by the intimate connection 
of our existence with that of another, is rendered milder 
and more supportable. To this may be added, that 
tender charge, that heaven on earth, secured by nothing 
so much as wedded love, which lies in the possession of 
healthful and well-educated children ; that actual reno- 
vation, reserved for us by their company, of which 
Cornaro, at the age of eighty, has given so affecting a 

We go out of the world by the same changes almost 
as those by which we enter it. We begin as children ; 
as children we leave off. We return, at last, to the 
same weak and helpless condition as our first. We 
must have people to lift us, to carry us, to provide us 
nourishment, and even to feed us. We again have need 
of parents. And how wise the establishment ! We 
find them again in our children, who now take delight 
in repaying a part of that kindness which we showed to 
them. Children now step, as it were, into the place of 
parents, while our weakness transposes us into the 
place of children. The venerable oak, on the other 
hand, does not enjoy the benefit of such a wise regula- 
tion. The old decayed trunk stands alone and for- 
gotten, and in vain endeavors to procure from foreign 
aid that support and assistance which can be the work 
only of natural affection and the bonds of nature. 

Do what thou canst, exert thy utmost power ; 
Yet still alone thou'lt stand till thy last hour, 
When Nature's hand, almighty and divine, 
To the grand whole thy lifeless mass shall join. 




I HAVE already shown that sleep is one of the wisest 
regulations of Nature, to check and moderate, at fixed 
periods, the incessant and impetuous stream of vital 
consumption. It forms, as it were, stations for our 
physical and moral existence ; and we thereby obtain 
the happiness of being daily reborn, and of passing 
every morning, through a state of annihilation, into a 
new and refreshed life. Without this continual change, 
this incessant renovation, how wretched and insipid 
would not life be; and how depressed our mental as 
well as physical sensation ! The greatest philosopher 
of the present age says, therefore, with justice : Take 
from man hope and sleep and he will be the most 
wretched being on earth. 

How unwisely then do those act who imagine that by 
taking as little sleep as possible they prolong their ex- 
istence. They obtain their end neither in intensive nor 
extensive life. They will, indeed, spend more hours 
with their eyes open ; but they will never enjoy life in 
the proper sense of the word, nor that freshness and 
energy of mind which are the certain consequences of 
sound and sufficient sleep, and which stamp a like char- 
acter on all our undertakings and actions. 

But sufficient sleep is necessary, not only for inten- 


sive life, but also for extensive, in regard to its support 
and duration. Nothing accelerates consumption so 
much, nothing wastes us so much before the time, and 
renders us old, as a want of it. The physical effects of 
sleep are, that it retards all the vital movements, col- 
lects the vital power, and restores what has been lost 
in the course of the day ; and that it separates from us 
what is useless and pernicious. It is, as it were, a 
daily crisis, during which all secretions are performed 
in the greatest tranquillity, and with the utmost per- 

Continued watching unites all the properties destruc- 
tive of life ; incessant wasting of the vital power and of 
the organs, acceleration of consumption, and prevention 
of restoration. 

We must not, however, on this account, believe that 
too long continued sleep is one of the best means for 
preserving life. Long sleep accumulates too great an 
abundance of pernicious juices, makes the organs too 
flaccid and unfit for use, and in this manner can shorten 
life also. 

In a word, no one should sleep less than six, nor 
more than eight hours. This may be established as a 
general rule. 

To those who wish to enjoy sound and peaceful re- 
pose, and to obtain the whole end of sleep, I recom- 
mend the following observations : 

1st. The place where one sleeps must be quiet and 
obscure. The less our senses are acted upon by exter- 
nal impressions, the more perfectly can the soul rest. 
One may from this see how improper the custom is of 


having a candle burning in one's bed-chamber during 
the night. 

2nd. People ought always to Deflect, that their bed- 
chamber is a place in which they pass a great part of 
their lives ; at least they do not remain in any place so 
long in the same situation. It is of the utmost impor- 
tance, therefore, that this place should contain pure 
sound air. A sleeping apartment must, consequently, 
be roomy and high ; neither inhabited nor heated dur- 
ing the day ; and the windows ought always to be kept 
open, except in the night time. 

3d. One should eat little, and only cold food for sup- 
per, and always some hours before going to bed. 

4th. When abed, one should lie not in a forced or 
constrained posture, but almost horizontal; the head 
excepted, which ought to be a little raised. Nothing is 
more prejudicial than to lie in bed half-sitting. The 
body then forms an angle ; circulation in the stomach 
is checked, and the spine is always very much com- 
pressed. By this custom one of the principal ends 
of sleep, a free and uninterrupted circulation of the 
blood, is defeated ; and, in infancy and youth, deform- 
ity and crookedness are often its consequences. 

5th. All the cares and burden of the day must be 
laid aside with one's clothes ; none of them must be car- 
ried to bed with us ; and, in this respect, one by custom 
may obtain very great power over the thoughts. I am 
acquainted with no practice more destructive than that 
of studying in bed, and of reading till one falls asleep. 
By these means the soul is put into too great activity, 
at a period when every thing conspires to allow it per- 


feet rest ; and it is natural that the ideas, thus excited, 
should wander and float through the brain during the 
whole night. It is not enough to sleep physically; 
man must sleep also spiritually. Such a disturbed 
sleep is as insufficient as its opposite, that is, when 
our spiritual part sleeps, but not our corporeal : such, 
for example, as sleep in a jolting carriage on a journey. 
6th. One circumstance, in particular, I must not here 
omit to mention. Many believe that it is entirely the 
same if one sleeps these seven hours either in the day 
or the night time. People give themselves up, there- 
fore, at night, as long as they think proper, either to 
study or pleasure ; and imagine that they make every 
thing even when they sleep in the forenoon those hours 
which they sat up after midnight. But I must reqaest 
every one, who regards his health, to beware of so se- 
ducing an error. It is certainly not the same, whether 
one sleeps seven hours by day or by night ; and two 
hours sound sleep before midnight are of more benefit 
to the body than four hours in the day. My reasons 
are as follow : 

KThat period of twenty-four hours, formed by the 
regular revolution of our earth, in which all its inhabi- 
tants partake, is particularly distinguished in the physi- 
cal economy of man. This regular period is apparent 
in all diseases ; and all the other small periods, so won- 
derful in our physical history, are by it in reality deter- 
mined. It is as it were, the unity of our natural 
chronologyj Now, it is observed, that the more the 
end of these periods coincides with the conclusion of 
the day, the more is the pulsation accelerated : and a 
feverish state is produced, or the so called evening 


fever, to which every man is subject. The accession 
of new chyle to the blood, may, in all probability, con- 
tribute something towards this fever, though it is not 
the only cause ; for we find it in sick people who have 
neither eat nor drunk. It is more owing, without 
doubt, to the absence of the sun, and to that revolution 
in the atmosphere which is connected with it. This 
evening fever is the reason why nervous people find 
themselves more fit for labour at night than during the 
day. To become active, they must first have an arti- 
ficial stimulus ; and the evening fever supplies the place 
of wine. But one may easily perceive that this is an 
unnatural state ; and the consequences are the same as 
those of every simple fever: lassitude, sleep, and a 
crisis, by the perspiration which takes place during that 
sleep. It may with propriety therefore be said, that all 
men every night have a critical perspiration, more per- 
ceptible in some, and less so in others, by which what- 
ever useless or pernicious particles have been imbibed 
by our bodies, or created in them, during the day, are 
secreted and removed. This daily crisis, necessary to 
every man, is particularly requisite for his support; 
and the proper period of it is when the fever has at- 
tained to its highest degree, that is, the period when 
the sun is in the nadir, consequently midnight. What 
do those, then, who disobey this voice of Nature which 
calls for rest at the above period, and who employ this 
fever, which should be the means of secreting and puri- 
fying our juices to enable them to increase their 
activity and exertion? By neglecting the critical 
period, they destroy the whole crisis of so much im- 
portance ; and, though they go to bed towards morning, 


cannot certainly obtain, on that account, the full benefit 
of sleep, as the critical period is past. They will never 
have a perfect, but an imperfect crisis ; and what that 
means is well known to physicans. Their bodies also 
will never be completely purified. How clearly is this 
proved by the infirmities, rheumatic pains, and swollen 
feet, the unavoidable consequences of such lucubration. 

Besides, the eyes suffer more by this custom; for 
one labors then the whole summer through with candle- 
light, which is not necessary for those who employ 
the morning. 

And, lastly, those who spend the night in labor, and 
the morning in sleep, lose that time which is the most 
beautiful and the best fitted for labor. After every 
sleep we are renovated in the properest sense of the 
word ; we are, in the morning, always taller than at 
night ; we have then more pliability, powers, and 
juices ; in a word, more of the characteristics of youth ; 
while, at night, our bodies are drier and more ex- 
hausted, and the properties of old age then prevail. 
One, therefore, may consider each day as a sketch, 
in miniature, of human We, in which the morning 
represents youth ; noon, manhood ; and evening, old 
age. Who would not then employ the youthful part 
of each day for labor, rather than begin his work in 
the evening, the period of old age and debility ? In 
the morning, all nature appears freshest and most en- 
gaging ; the mind at that period is also clearest, and 
possesses most strength and energy. It is not, as at 
night, worn out, and rendered unequal, by the multi- 
farious impressions of the day, by business and fatigue : 
it is then more original, and possesses its natural 


powers. This is the period of new mental creation, 
of clear conceptions and exalted ideas. Never does 
man enjoy the sensation of his own existence so purely 
and in so great perfection as in a beautiful morning. 
He who neglects this period, neglects the youth of his 

All those who attained to a great age were fond of 
early rising ; and John Wesley, the founder of the 
Methodists, an original and singular man, was so 
convinced of the necessity of this custom, that he 
made it a point of religion to get up early, and by 
these means lived to the age of eighty-eight. His 
motto, which as a true maxim of life I shall here re- 
commend, was : 

To go early to bed, and early to rise, 

Will make a maa healthy, wealthy, and wise. 


Bodily exercise. 

" WHEN I consider the physical structure of man," 
said the great Frederick, " it appears to me as if Nature 
had formed us rather to be postillions than sedentary 
men of letters." And, without doubt, though this ex- 
pression be strong, it contains a great deal of truth. 
Man is, and always remains, a middle being, that 
incessantly fluctuates between the brute and the angel ; 
and as much as he would deviate from his higher des- 
tination, did he continue the mere animal, as much 
does he offend against his present destination when he 
wishes to be merely spirit to think only and to per- 
ceive. He must exercise his animal and spiritual 
powers in the like degree, if he be desirous to accom- 
plish perfectly the object for which he was created ; 
and this, in regard to the duration of life, is of the 
utmost importance. Harmony in the movements is 
the grand foundation on which health, uniformity of 
restoration, and the duration of the body, depend ; and 
these certainly cannot take place if we merely sit and 
think. The propensity to bodily movement is, in man, 
as great as the propensity to eating and drinking. Let 
us only look at a child. Sitting still is to it the great- 
est punishment. And the faculty of sitting the whole 
day, and not feeling the least desire for moving, is cer- 


tainly an unnatural and diseased state. We are taught 
by experience, that those men attained to the greatest 
age, who accustomed themselves to strong and inces- 
sant exercise in the open air. 

I consider it, therefore, as an indispensable law of 
longevity, that one should exercise, at least, an hour 
every day, in the open air. The most healthful time 
is before meals, or from three to four hours after. 

In this respect, besides small journeys, and excur- 
sions on horseback, moderate dancing, and other gym- 
nastic exercises are of great service : and it is much to 
be wished that we here paid more attention to imitate 
the ancients, who managed scientifically this promoter 
of health, and suffered no external circumstances to 
prevent them from using it. It is of most benefit when 
not merely the body, but the soul also, is exercised and 
kept awake at the same time. A walk, therefore, to 
answer fully its object, must be directed to a quarter 
where the prospects are always agreeable, and to a 
certain term or spot. 


The enjoyment of free air. Moderate temperature of warmth. 

THE enjoyment of free air may be considered as a 
nourishment equally necessary for our existence as 
eating and drinking. Pure air is certainly the great- 
est means of strengthening and supporting life ; while 
confined and corrupted air is its most subtle and deadly 

From this may be deduced the following practical 
rules : 

1st. Suffer no day to pass without enjoying the pure 
open air beyond the boundaries of a town or city 
Consider your walk not merely as the means of ex- 
ercise, but, in a particular manner, as the enjoyment 
of the purest vital nourishment, which is indispensably 
necessary above all to those who are much confined 
to their apartments. Besides this advantage, one ob- 
tains that also of making one's self, by such daily en- 
joyment of air, acquainted and familiar with a free 
atmosphere ; and people are thus secured against one 
of the greatest evils that usually afflict mankind, I 
mean too much sensibility in regard to all impressions 
and variations of the weather. This is one of the 
most abundant sources of disease ; and there is no 
other method of counteracting it, but to harden one's 
self by daily exposure to the open air. 


Lastly. By this custom one will obtain infinite ad- 
vantage in regard to the eyes ; for it is certain that a 
great cause of weak eyes and short-sightedness are 
the four walls within which we are accustomed to live 
from our infancy, and by which the eyes at length 
lose their whole power of seeing remote objects dis- 
tinctly. The best proof of this is, that such weakness 
of the eyes is to be found only in cities, and not in the 

2nd. One should endeavor, wherever it is possible, 
to live high. Those who have a regard for their health, 
at least in cities, ought not to inhabit the ground-floor. 
Let the windows be opened daily. Ventilators, or 
chimneys, are the best means for purifying the foul 
atmosphere of confined apartments. People ought 
not to sleep in rooms which have been inhabited the 
whole day ; and the windows of bed-chambers should 
be always kept open in the daytime. 

I must here add one remark of the utmost impor- 
tance for the prolongation of life. The air in which 
one lives should be kept in a moderate degree of tem- 
perature. It is much better to live in air too cool 
than too hot ; for heat accelerates, in an extraordinary 
degree, the stream of vital consumption, as is proved 
by the shorter lives of those who inhabit warm coun- 
tries ; and many people create artificially such a cli- 
mate by means of their hot apartments. The tempe- 
rature of the air in an apartment should never exceed 
66 of Fahrenheit's thermometer. 


Rural and country life. 

FORTUNATE are they to whose lot it has fallen to 
remain near and true to their parent Earth ; and to 
find their happiness, labor, and destination in immedi- 
ate intercourse with Nature. They reside at the real 
source of eternal youth, health, and felicit ; both body 
and soul enjoy there the utmost harmony and well- 
being. Simplicity, cheerfulness, innocence, and con- 
tentment, accompany them through life; and they 
attain to the utmost term which it is capable of reach- 
ing with its present organization. I cannot refrain, 
therefore, from inserting here what Herder has said on 
this subject : 

The resolution of my friend to change 
His walled prison for a rural seat 
I much applaud why should we foolishly 
Pile up in lofty towers the hard hewn rock ? 
To fright us with their sudden fall, or hide 
From our dark eyes e cheering face of heaven ! 
Not so in former days lived the young world, 
In innocence and peace ; free from such folly, 
'Midst rural scenes there harmless mirth prevails, 
And fills the breast with never-ceasing joy : 
There we behold the wide-expanded heaven ; 
No neighbor robs us of the light of day ; 


And from the clear fresh spring Apollo bids ua 

Assuage our thirst with his own liquor. 

O did but men know what is happiness ! 

Our mother Nature ne'er within dark cities, 

Or gloomy walls and castles, it confined. 

It on the plain blooms equally for all. 

Those find it oft who seek it not ; and he 

Who spurns base ore will it enjoy his treasure 

Is what the earth presents in the bright stream 

He sees his silver ; and his gold shoots up 

In yellow corn, or smiles from fruitful trees. 

He hears his concert in the shady grove ; 

And there his chorus, free at will to range, 

Joins in the mirthful or the pensive strain. 

Far otherwise within the town confined : 

The captive songster in its cage complains ! 

The slave who feeds it thinks it sings alone 

To please its master ; but with every note 

It bids its tyrant give it liberty 

Nature delights in rural scenes : and Art, 

Her imitator, there must follow her 

With timid steps. Of foliage ever green 

Behold yon palace, arched with thick woven boughs ! 

Where thou mayst sit, like Persia's boasted lord 

In halls of cedar and 'midst peace enjoy, 

What he ne'er knows, sound, sweet, refreshing sleep. 

Great cities are great plagues ! There native joy 

Flies from man's breast, and makes him pleasure seek 

In Art alone there every thing by paint 

Is seen disguised the countenance and walls 

Each action, word, and even the very heart 

All there consists of costly wood or stone ; 

And even the owners seem as hard as these. 

O rural life, 'midst poverty how rich ! 

When hunger bids, there thou mayst nobly feast 

On what each season for thy use brings forth, 

In rich variety. The plough thy table ; 

And a green leaf, by way of dish, supports 


Thy meal of fruit. A homely wooden jug 
Draws up refreshing drink from the pure stream, 
Which, free from poison, pours out health alone, 
And with soft murmur thee to sleep invites : 
"While, in the air, the lark high-soaring sings 
Now mounting up, again descending low 
Until, at length, it drops into its nest, 
Just at thy foot, between two furrows placed. 

If one, indeed, be desirous of sketching out, accord- 
ing to theoretical principles, the idea of a life condu- 
cive to health and longevity, one must recur to that 
presented to us by a country life. Nowhere are all the 
requisites for that purpose so perfectly united as here ; 
and nowhere does every thing in and around mankind 
labor so powerfully to promote health and longe/ity. 
The enjoyment of pure, sound air ; simple and frugal 
food ; daily and strong exercise without doors ; estab- 
lished regularity in all the vital operations ; the beauti- 
ful prospect of simple Nature ; and a frame of internal 
peace, cheerfulness, and serenity, which by these means 
are diffused throughout the mind what sources of 
vital restoration ! Besides, a country life is, in a par- 
ticular manner, capable of giving that disposition which 
is contrary to the passionate, overstrained, and eccen- 
tric ; and the more so as it removes us from the dissipa- 
tion, corruption, and worthlessness of the town, which 
tend always to nourish the passions. It consequently 
preserves, both internally and externally, peace of 
mind and equanimity, which are such great supports to 
life. It inspires us with cheerfulness and hope, and 
increases our enjoyments in general, but without vio- 
lence or passion, and moderated by the softest tone of 


Nature. It needs excite no wonder, then, that, accord- 
ing to experience, instances of the greatest age are to 
be found in rural life only. 

It is a melancholy reflection, that this kind of life, 
the earliest and most natural state of man, should at 
present be so little esteemed that the fortunate farmer 
even quits it till his son becomes a studious rake ; and 
the proportion between countrymen and citizens seems 
daily to be diminished. It certainly would be much 
better for the happiness of individuals, as well as of the 
whole, if the greater part of the penknives and scissors 
now in use were converted into ploughshares, and that 
those hands occupied in scribbling were employed with 
the plough and the spade. The former, to many, is 
indeed only labor of the hands ; but the latter is the 
most useful, and, if I am not much mistaken, we shall 
be at length obliged, from political considerations, to 
recur to it once more. Man must again approach 
nearer to his parent Earth, from which he has so far 
removed in every point of view. 

All, indeed, cannot be farmers by profession ; but 
how beneficial would it be, if men of letters, people of 
business, and those who labor with their heads, would 
divide their time between both kinds of employment; 
and imitate the ancients, who, notwithstanding their 
philosophical or political engagements, did not think it 
beneath their dignity to devote their spare hours to 
agriculture, and to rusticate in the proper sense of the 
word ! All the melancholy consequences of a seden- 
tary life, and overstraining the mental faculties, would 
disappear, if people, some hours every day, or a few 
mouths in the year, would take hold of a spade or a 


mattock and cultivate their field or their garden ; for 
the usual method of living in the country, (which in 
general means nothing else than to carry along with 
one care and books, and to read, think, or write in the 
open air, instead of a chamber,) cannot accomplish that 
object. Such rustication will again restore the equi- 
librium between the mind and the body, which the 
writing-desk so often destroys. By an union of these 
three grand panaceas, exercise, free air, and exhilarat- 
ing the spirits, a renovation and restoration may be 
annually effected, which will be of incredible service to 
vital duration and happiness. Nay I do not think I say 
too much when I promise, from this practice, besides 
physical advantages, many of a spiritual and moral 
nature also. Cobwebs of the brain and hypotheses of 
the closet will certainly be less abundant ; people will 
not so often imagine the whole world to be contained 
in their persons, or within the four walls of their studies, 
and treat it in that point of view ; and the mind will 
acquire a greater propensity to truth, more soundness, 
more warmth, and a more natural manner of thinking, 
properties which distinguish the Greek and Roman 
philosophers so much, and for which, in my opinion, 
they were indebted principally to their continual inter- 
course with Nature. One ought therefore to be exceed- 
ingly careful never to suffer a taste for Nature to be 
extinguished in the mind. This taste may be easily 
destroyed, by always living recluse, by incessant appli- 
cation to business, and by abstract speculations in the 
closet ; and when it is once lost, the most beautiful 
rural scenes will have no effect upon us ; and one, in 
the most delightful districts, and under the serenest 


sky, may remain in a state of living death. This may 
be best guarded against by not removing too long or 
too far from Nature ; by quitting, as often as one can, 
the artificial and abstract world ; by opening all the 
senses to the beneficent influences of Nature ; and if 
one from the earliest youth endeavors to acquire a 
taste for the study of Natural History (a point which 
ought to be attended to in education), and to warm the 
imagination for it by the beautiful imitations of paint- 
ing, and the heart-exalting descriptions of the poets of 
Nature, such as a Zachariii, Thomson, Gesner, Mat- 
thison, etc. 



I CANNOT possibly omit to devote here a particular 
place to this enjoyment, and to recommend it as a 
means of prolonging life. The continual motion, vari- 
ety of scene, exhilaration of the mind, and the use of 
free and changed air, have a magical effect upon man- 
kind, and contribute in an incredible degree to renovate 
and revive the whole frame. Vital consumption may 
indeed be thereby somewhat increased; but this is 
amply counterbalanced by the increased restoration 
which is effected, partly in regard to the body, by 
digestion being strengthened and invigorated, and 
partly in regard to the mind, by a succession of agree- 
able impressions, and the forgetfulness of one's self. 
This help, therefore, I recommend to those whose 
employment condemns them to a sedentary life, who 
are continually engaged in abstract studies or oppres- 
sive labor, whose minds have sunk into a state of insen- 
sibility, melancholy or hypochondriasis, or, what is 
worst of all, are strangers to domestic felicity. 

But as many employ it in such a manner that it pro- 
duces no effect, it perhaps may be of some service to 
communicate here a few of the most important rules 
how people must travel in order to benefit their health 
and their life. 


1st. Travelling on foot, or rather on horseback, is 
the most healthful, and best calculated to answer the 
end proposed ; but when one is weakly, or undertakes 
long excursions, it is more advisable to travel in a car- 

2nd. When one travels in a carriage, it is very bene- 
ficial always to change the posture ; that is, to sit some- 
times, and sometimes to recline. By these means one 
can best prevent the evils attending continued riding in 
this manner, which are occasioned principally by the 
jolting being in one direction. 

3rd. Nature will not suffer any sudden transitions. 
It is therefore improper for people accustomed to a 
sedentary life to undertake suddenly a journey during 
which they will be exposed to violent jolting. The 
case here is the same as if one accustomed to drink 
water should all at once begin to drink wine. Let the 
transition be slow, and begin with moderate motion. 

4th. Excursions, the object of which is health and 
the prolongation of life, must not be fatiguing ; but this 
can be determined only by difference of temperament 
and constitution. Ten or twelve miles daily, with a 
rest every three or four days, may perhaps be the best 
standard. One ought, above all things, to avoid travel- 
ling in the night time; which, by interrupting the 
necessary refreshment, checking perspiration, and ex- 
posing the body to unhealthful air, is always preju- 
dicial. By respecting nocturnal rest, one may accom- 
plish twice as much in the day. 

5th. People must not imagine that they may indulge 
a little more in intemperance when on a journey. One, 
however, needs not to be too nice in the choice of food 


and drink ; and it is always best to use the common 
fare of each country. But at any rate the stomach 
ought not to be overloaded. By the motion of travel- 
ling, the power of the body is too much divided for the 
stomach to admit of a large quantity of food ; and the 
motion itself, by these means, will become more fatigu- 
ing. People, in particular, should not indulge too 
much in heating food and liquors, as is often the case 
on journeys; for travelling alone acts as a stimulus, 
and less stimulating nourishment is then required than 
in a state of rest. A want of attention to this rule may 
occasion too violent irritation, inflammation, accumula- 
tions of the blood, etc. It is most proper, on journeys, 
too eat rather little at a time, but often ; to drink more 
than one eats ; and to choose food easy of digesiion, 
yet strongly nutritive, not of a heating nature, and such 
as cannot be readily adulterated. It is safest, therefore, 
in the country, and in small inns, to use milk, eggs, 
well-baked bread, boiled or roasted meat, and fruit. I 
advise travellers, above all, to be on their guard against 
the wine kept in such houses. It will be much better 
to drink water with the addition of a little lemon-juice, 
or of some good liquor which they may carry along 
with them. If the water be impure, it may be ren- 
dered sweet by charcoal powder.* 

* This is one of the greatest and beneficial discoveries of 
modern times, for which we are indebted to Mr. Lowiz of Peters- 
burg. Water which has a disagreeable odor, or has become 
putrid, may almost immediately be freed from its nauseous taste, 
as well as its bad smell, and be converted into good drinkable 
liquor, by the following process : Take some burnt charcoal, 
and reduce it to a fine powder. Mix about a tablespoonful of 


6th. Avoid immoderate exertion and wasting of the 
powers. It is, however, as difficult in general to lay 
down a proper standard of motion, as of eating and 
drinking. But Nature, in this, has given us a very ex- 
cellent guide, a sense of lassitude, which is here of as 
much importance as the sense of satiety in eating or 
drinking. Weariness is nothing else than the voice of 
Nature, which tells us that our stock of powers is ex- 
hausted, and that he who is tired should enjoy repose. 
But Nature may, indeed, become lost in habit ; and we 
may be as insensible of lassitude as the continual glut- 
ton is of fulness, especially when the nerves are over- 
strained by stimulating and heating food and drink. 
There are then, however, other signs to tell us that we 
have exceeded the proper measure ; and I request that 
to these the strictest attention may be paid. When one 
begins to be low-spirited or dejected ; to yawn often, 
and be drowsy, yet at the same time to be incapable of 
sleeping though one enjoys rest ; when the appetite is 
lost ; when the smallest movement occasions a fluttering 
of the pulse, heat, and even trembling ; when the mouth 
becomes dry, and is sensible of a bitter taste, it is high 
time to seek refreshment and repose, if one wishes to 
prevent illness already beginning to take place. 

7th. While one is travelling, insensible perspiration 
may easily be checked ; and cold is the principal 

this powder in a pint of water, stir it well round, and suffer it to 
stand for a few minutes. Let it then run slowly through filter- 
ing paper into a glass, and it will be found quite transparent, 
without any bad taste or smell, and perfectly pure for drinking. 
People may preserve the charcoal powder a long time in a small 
bottle well corked, and carry it with them when they travel. 


source of those diseases which thence arise. It is 
advisable, therefore, to guard against all sudden transi- 
tions from heat to cold, or the contrary ; and those who 
have great sensibility in the skin, will do well, when 
they go on a journey, to carry a thin flannel shirt along 
with them. 

8th. Cleanliness, when one travels, is doubly neces- 
sary ; and, therefore, to wash the body frequently with 
cold water is much to be recommended.^ This will con- 
tribute also, in a great degree, to remove lassitude. 

9th. During winter, or in a cold climate, one may 
'always submit to greater exercise than during summer, 
or in warm climates, where perspiration exhausts one 
half of the strength. One, also, can undergo more 
fatigue early in the morning than in the afternoon. 

10th. Full-blooded persons, or those who are subject 
to a spitting of blood, or other serious disease, must 
consult their physician before they undertake a journey. 


Cleanliness, and care of the skin. 

BOTH these I consider as important means for the 
prolongation of life. Cleanliness removes every thing 
that Nature has secreted from us, as useless or cor- 
rupted ; as well as every thing prejudicial, that might 
be conveyed to us, from without, through the super- 
ficies of our bodies. 

Care of the skin is an essential part of cleanliness, 
and consists in paying such attention to it from infancy, 
that it may be kept in a lively, active, and useful con- 

The skin, indeed, must not be considered merely as 
a common covering to defend us from the sun and the 
rain, but as one of the most important organs of our 
body, without the incessant activity and agency of 
which there can be neither health nor long life ; and 
in the neglect of which, in modern times, lies the secret 
source of numberless diseases and evils that tend to 
shorten our existence. May the following observa- 
tions, therefore, make more impression on my readers, 
and excite more attention to this organ and the man- 
agement of it ! 

The skin is the greatest medium for purifying our 
bodies; and every moment a multitude of useless, 
corrupted, and worn-out particles evaporate through 


its numberless small vessels, in an insensible manner. 
This secretion is inseparably connected with life, and 
the circulation of our blood ; and by it the greater 
part of all the impurity of our bodies is removed. If 
the skin, therefore, be flabby or inactive, and if its 
pores be stopped up, an acridity and corruption of 
our juices will be the unavoidable consequence, and 
the most dangerous diseases may ensue. 

Besides, the skin is the seat of feeling, the most 
general of all our senses, or that which in an essential 
manner connects us with surrounding Nature, and in 
particular with the atmosphere ; and by the state of 
which, in a great measure, the sensation of our own 
existence, and the relation which we bear to every 
thing around us, is determined. Hence a greater or 
less sensibility, in regard to disease, depends very 
much on the skin ; and those whose skin is weak or 
relaxed have generally a sensation too delicate and 
unnatural, by which means it happens that they are 
internally affected in a manner highly disagreeable, 
by every small variation in the weather, every change 
of the atmosphere, and at length become real baro- 
meters. Such a constitution is called the rheumatic, 
and arises chiefly from a want of strength in the skin. 
It occasions a tendency to perspiration, which is also 
an unnatural state, and which exposes us continually 
to colds and other disorders. 

It is, likewise, a grand means for preserving an equi- 
librium in the powers and motion of our bodies. The 
more active and open the skin is, the more secure will 
people be against obstructions, and diseases of the 
lungs, intestines, and lower stomach ; and the less ten- 


dency will they have to gastric (bilious) fevers, hypo- 
chondriasis, gout, asthma, catarrh, and varicose veins. 
One great cause of these disorders being at present so 
common amongst us, is, that we no longer endeavor 
to cleanse and strengthen the skin by bathing and other 

. The skin, moreover, is one of the most important 
means of restoration of our bodies, by which a multi- 
tude of fine spiritual component parts are conveyed to 
us from the atmosphere. Without a sound skin there 
can be no complete restoration, which is one of the 
chief principles of long life. 

It ought also not to be forgotten, that the skin is the 
grand organ of crises, that is to say, the assistant of 
Nature in disease ; and that a man with open pores, 
and a skin sufficiently vigorous, may depend on being 
cured much more easily and with more certainty, and 
often even without the use of medicine. 

That such an organ must be a great support of 
health and life, no one will deny ; and it is therefore 
incomprehensible how people in modern times, since 
mankind have become more enlightened, should neg- 
lect it so much. Nay, we in general find, that, instead 
of paying the least attention to it, they from their in- 
fancy do every thing in their power, as it were, to re- 
lax and to weaken it, and to stop up its pores. The 
most of mankind, except at baptism, never experience 
the benefit of bathing during their whole lives ; the skin 
by dirt and daily perspiration is more and more stopped 
up ; weakened and relaxed by warm clothing, furs, 
feather-beds, etc. ; rendered inactive by confined air, 
and a sedentary life j and I think I may, without ex- 


aggeration, assert, that, among the greater part of 
men, the pores of the skin are half-closed and unfit 
for use. 

Let me here be permitted to call the attention of my 
readers to an incongruity, which is not the only one of 
the kind in human life. The most ignorant person is 
convinced that proper care of the skin is indispensably 
necessary for the existence and well-being of horses 
and various animals. The groom often denies himself 
sleep, and other gratifications, that he may curry and 
dress his horses sufficiently. If they become meagre 
and weak, the first reflection is, whether there may not 
have been some neglect or want of care in regard to 
combing them. Such a simple idea, however, never 
occurs to him in respect to his child. If it grow feeble 
and sickly ; if it pine away and is afflicted with disease, 
the consequence of dirt, he thinks rather of witchcraft 
and other absurdities than of the real cause, neglecting 
to keep the skin pure and clean. Since we show so 
much prudence and intelligence in regard to animals, 
why not in regard to men ? 

The rules which I have to propose for preserving 
cleanliness and a sound state of the skin, are remark- 
ably easy and simple ; and, if observed from youth, 
may be considered as very powerful means for the 
prolongation of life. 

1st. Remove carefully every thing that the body 
has secreted as corrupted or prejudicial. This may 
be done by changing the linen often, daily if it be 
possible, and also the bed-clothes, or at least the sheets ; 
by using, instead of a feather-bed, a mattress, which 


attracts less dirt ; and by continually renewing the air 
in apartments, and particularly in one's bed-chamber. 

2nd. Let the whole body be washed daily with cold 
water, and rub the skin strongly at the same time, 
by which means it will acquire a great deal of life and 

3rd. One ought to bathe once a week, the whole 
year through, in tepid water; and it will be of con- 
siderable service to add to it three or four ounces of 
soap. It is much to be wished that public baths were 
again erected, that poor people might enjoy this benefit, 
and thereby be rendered strong and sound, as was the 
case some centuries ago.* 

I cannot quit this subject without mentioning sea- 

* Traces of this laudable practice may still everywhere be 
seen in the remains of baths and bathing-houses ; but the use of 
it has been abandoned through the inconceivable indolence of 
mankind. Every Sunday evening, people formerly went in pro- 
cession through the streets, beating on basins, to remind the 
lower classes of bathing; and the tradesman, who labored at 
dirty work, washed off, in the bath, that dirt which now adheres 
to him perhaps during his whole life. In every place of any 
consequence there should be a bathing-house, or a floating bath 
on some river for the summer, and another for the winter. In 
bathing it ought to be a rule never to enter the water with a full 
stomach, but either fasting or four hours after eating ; never to 
bathe when the body is hot ; to remain in cold water not more 
than a quarter of an hour, and in warm water never more than 
three quarters ; to be cautious of catching cold when one comes 
out, which may be best done by putting on a flannel gown ; and 
during dry warm weather, to take moderate exercise afterwards ; 
but in cold, inoist weather, to remain for an hour in a warm 


bathing, which, on account of its stimulative and pene- 
trating power, may be placed at the head of those 
means that regard the care of the skin ; and which 
certainly supplies one of the first wants of the present 
generation, by opening the pores, and thereby reinvig- 
orating the whole nervous system. This bathing is 
attended with two important advantages. The first 
is, that besides its great healing power, in cases of 
disease, it may be employed by those who are perfectly 
well, as the means most agreeable to Nature for strength- 
ening and preserving health ; which is not the case 
with a great many other kinds of bathing, that are in- 
jurious to a healthy person. In this respect it may 
be compared to bodily exercise, which can remove dis- 
eases otherwise incurable, and which may be used 
also by those who are sound, in order to preserve them- 
selves in that state. The other advantage is the noble, 
grand, and indescribable prospect of the sea connected 
with it ; and which, on those not acquainted with it, 
has an effect capable of bracing up the nervous system, 
and producing a beneficial exaltation of the whole 
frame. I am fully convinced that the physical effects 
of sea-bathing must be greatly increased by this impres- 
sion on the mind ; and that a hypochondriac or nervous 
person may be half cured by residing on the sea-coast, 
and enjoying a view of the grand scenes ,of Nature 
which will there present themselves : such as the rising 
and setting of the sun over the blue expanse of the 
waters, the awful majesty of the waves during a storm, 
etc. For the like purpose, therefore, I would advise 
an inhabitant of the inland parts to take a journey to 


the sea ; and an inhabitant of the coast to make an ex- 
cursion to the Alps ; for both, in my opinion, are the 
sublimest productions of Nature. The thanks of the 
public are undoubtedly due to that exalted prince, so 
much a friend to mankind, who erected the first sea- 
bath in Germany, at Dobrahn, near Rostock ; and to 
that worthy physician Vogel, who formed the plan of 
it in a manner so excellent and so likely to make it 
answer the intended purpose, and who assists its salu- 
tary effects by his presence and advice. 

4th. People should wear warm clothing that does 
not tend to weaken the skin, and which may readily 
suffer the perspiring matter to pass through it. In 
this respect, I know nothing more prejudicial than to 
wear fur, which, by its great warmth, weakens the 
skin very much; does not promote evaporation, but 
sweat ; and, on account of the thickness of the leather, 
does not suffer the perspiring particles to fly off. The 
consequence is, that a continual vapor-bath is formed 
between the fur and the skin, and that a great part of 
the impure matter is again thrown back on the body, 
and imbibed by it Far better is flannel, which has 
the advantage of fur, without the disadvantage of at- 
tracting dirt and occasioning too much heat. But all 
these warm coverings on the bare skin are to be recom- 
mended only during intense cold or for weakly people 
subject to rheumatism. In infancy and youth, and 
for those whose bodies are sound, it is far preferable 
to wear next the skin either linen or cotton, with" a 
vest of the same in summer, and in winter one of wool- 



5th. One should use much bodily exercise ; for this 
is a great promoter of insensible perspiration. 

6th. Avoid all food unfavorable to perspiration. 
Of this nature is fat of every kind, pork, goose, 
cheese, etc. 


Proper food. Moderation in eating and drinking. Preservation of 
the teeth. 

THE idea of proper regimen is somewhat relative. 
In general, we find that those men who were not too 
nice or particular in regard to their food, but who lived 
sparingly, attained to the greatest age ; and it is an 
advantage peculiar to man, that he can digest and 
assimilate the most heterogeneous kinds of nourish- 
ment, and is not, like other animals, confined to one 
certain class. It is proved that people in a natural 
state, who are much exposed to the free open air and 
to exercise, require few rules respecting their diet. It 
was our artificial manner of living that first rendered 
regimen necessary. 

It is at any rate certain, that the prolongation of life 
does not so much depend on the quality, as on the 
quantity, of our nourishment ; and the instance of 
Cornaro affords an astonishing proof how far a man of 
weakly constitution may thereby prolong his existence. 

It may with truth be asserted, that the greater part 
of mankind eat more than is necessary ; and by being 
crammed and over-fed in infancy, we are deprived of 
that natural sensation which ought to tell us when we 
have enough. 


I shall here only give such common rules in regard 
to eating and drinking as will suit the generality of man- 
kind ; and which, I am convinced, will have an essen- 
tial influence in prolonging life. 

1st. It is not what we eat, but what we digest, that 
does us good, and serves to nourish our bodies. He 
who wishes to live long ought, therefore, to eat slowly; 
as our food must obtain in the mouth the first degree of 
preparation and assimilation. This is effected by its 
being sufficiently chewed and mixed with saliva ; botli 
which I consider as a principal part of the business of 
restoration, and consequently set great value upon them 
in regard to the prolongation of life, especially as it ap- 
pears by my researches that all those who were accus- 
tomed to eat slowly attained to a great age. 

2nd. A great deal depends on good teeth ; and, there- 
fore, I can with propriety reckon preservation of the 
teeth among those means that tend to prolong life. By 
the following rules, if observed from infancy, the teeth 
may be preserved fast and sound to the greatest age. 

One must always join with the flesh used for food a 
sufficient quantity of vegetables and bread; for flesh 
adheres more readily between the teeth, and tends to 
injure them. It will be found, therefore, that those 
who use little or no flesh, boors and country people, 
have always the best teeth, though they never clean 
them. But no tooth-powder can be more efficacious 
than a piece of dry burnt bread ; and it is a custom 
very salutary for the teeth, to chew slowly a crust of 
bread after every meal. 

Avoid exposing the teeth to a sudden transition from 
heat to cold, or the contrary ; for the teeth are covered 


with a glassy kind of enamel, which may be easily 
cracked by such sudden changes ; so that corrupted par- 
ticles can insinuate themselves into the rents, and lay the 
first foundation of decay within them. It will be best, 
therefore, never to take too hot or too cold things into 
the mouth ; and be careful, above all, not to drink cold 
liquor while you are eating warm food, such as hot 
soup, etc. 

Never eat sugar, and avoid confections, which are 
mixed with a great deal of tough calcareous particles. 

As soon as you observe that a tooth is decayed, have 
it immediately pulled out, otherwise it will infect the 

Wash your teeth with water every morning, and in 
particular after each meal. This will remove any re- 
mains of food adhering to them, which commonly fix 
themselves between the teeth, and lay the first ground 
for decay. 

Those who observe these rules will seldom have oc- 

* It is an error to suppose that a decayed tooth has the power 
of infecting its neighbor, and it is bad advice to suggest its ex- 
traction. One of the chief agents of destruction of the teeth is 
pressure, therefore a tooth usually decays on the side which is 
contiguous to another, and as in all probability both teeth are 
sufferers from the pressure, both are liable to decay : because one 
precedes the other in this action, it has been inferred that the de- 
cayed tooth has contaminated its fellow, but this is not the fact. 
Then as to the advice. When a tooth has decayed, the patient 
should seek the dentist, who will probably clear out the dead 
part, and stop the cavity with gold. When this operation is well 
and judiciously performed^ the tooth will last as long as if it 
were perfectly sound. Hence, the chief art of the dentist of the 
present day is to save the teeth and not waste them, as was the 
case when our author nourished. EDITOR. 


casion for tooth-powder. But if th^ teeth have a ten- 
dency, as is the case naturally in some men, to become 
foul, or to acquire what is called tartar, I recommend 
the following harmless prescription : Take half an 
ounce of red sandal-wood, with a quarter of an ounce of 
China-root (similax aspera Ghinensis) ; reduce them to 
a fine powder, and sift it through a hair-sieve.* Then 
add to it six drops of the oil of cloves, and the same 
quantity of bergamot oil ; and rub the teeth with it in 
the morning. 

3rd. Beware of studying, reading, or straining the 
head while at table. That period must certainly be 
consecrated to the stomach. It is the time of its gov- 
ernment ; and the mind must no further interfere with 
it than may be. necessary to assist its operations. 
Laughter is one of the greatest helps to digestion with 
which I am acquainted ; and the custom, prevalent 
among our forefathers, of exciting it at table by jesters 
and buffoons, was founded on true medical principles. 
In a word, endeavor to have cheerful and merry com- 
panions at your meals. What nourishment one re- 
ceives amidst mirth and jollity, will certainly produce 
good and light blood. 

4th. Do not expose yourself to violent motion after 
meals; for this will disturb, in an astonishing degree, 

* This tooth-powder, composed of materials no longer in use,, 
is very inferior to the tooth-powders of the present day ; the best 
of which are those made either of simple precipitated chalk : of 
precipitated chalk with one eighth part of orris-root; or of pre- 
cipitated chalk with one eighth part of camphor. Camphor has 
of late been accused of doing injury to the teeth, by rendering 
them brittle ; whether such be really the case I am unable to de- 
cide. EDITOR. 


the digestion and assimilation of your nourishment. It 
will be best to stand, or to walk about slowly. The 
properest time for exercise is before meals, or three 
hours after. 

5th. Never eat so much that you feel you have a 
stomach. It will be best to give over before you are 
completely sated. The quantity of food must be always 
proportioned to one's bodily labor : the less the labor, 
the less ought to be the nourishment. 

6th. In the choice of food one should incline more to 
vegetables. Flesh has always a greater tendency to 
putrefaction ; and vegetables, on the other hand, to aci- 
dity, which corrects putrefaction, our continual and great- 
est enemy. Besides, animal food is always of a more 
heating and stimulating nature ; whereas vegetables pro- 
duce cool, mild blood ; lessen the internal motion, men- 
tal as well as bodily irritability ; and powerfully retard 
vital consumption. Lastly, animal food yields more 
blood and nourishment ; and requires, in order to be 
beneficial to us, much more labor and bodily motion ; 
and, by the use of it, one also is liable to become ple- 
thoric. On this account it is not proper for men of let- 
ters, and those who sit a great deal ; as such people do 
not require so strong restoration, or so much addition 
of substance, but only of those fine nourishing juices 
that are necessary for the spiritual functions. One, 
above all, ought to avoid flesh in summer, and when 
putrid fevers are prevalent. We find that it is not 
those who lived on flesh, but on vegetables, pulse, fruit, 
and milk, who attained to the greatest age ; Lord 
Bacon mentions a man of 120, who, during his whole 
life, never used any other food than milk. The Brah- 


mins, by their religion, are confined merely to vegeta- 
bles, and, for the most part, live to the age of 100. 
John Wesley, in the middle of his life, gave over the 
use of flesh ; lived upon vegetables alone, and attained 
the age of 88. 

7th. At night, one ought to eat sparingly, and use 
little or no flesh, if cold it will be best ; and to sup a 
few hours before bed-time. 

8th. Never neglect to use a sufficient quantity of 
drink. It too often happens that people, by inatten- 
tion to the calls of Nature, forget drinking altogether, 
and are no longer reminded of it ; which is the grand 
cause of aridity, obstructions in the lower stomach, and 
a multitude of diseases to be found so frequently among 
men of letters, and females, who lead a sedentary life. 
But it is to be observed, that the best time for drinking 
is not while one is eating, as the gastric juices are there- 
by rendered too thin, and the stomach weakened, but 
about an hour after meals. 

The best drink is water, a liquor commonly despised, 
and even considered as prejudicial. I will not hesitate, 
however, to declare it to be one of the greatest means 
for prolonging life. Read what is said of it by 
that respectable veteran, Theden, surgeon-general, who 
ascribes his long life of more than 80 years chiefly to 
the daily use of seven or eight quarts (from twenty to 
twenty-four pounds) of fresh water, which he drank for 
upwards of forty years. Between his thirtieth and for- 
tieth year he was a most miserable hypochondriac, op- 
pressed with the deepest melancholy ; tormented with 
a palpitation of the heart, indigestion, etc. ; and im- 
agined that he could not live six months. But from the 


time that he began this water regimen, all these symp- 
toms disappeared ; and in the latter half of his life, he 
enjoyed better health than before, and was perfectly 
free from the hypochondriac affection. One great 
point, however, is, that the water must be fresh, that is, 
recently drawn from a spring or running stream, and 
be put into a vessel well stopped ; for all spring water, 
like the mineral, contains fixed air, which renders it 
.strengthening and favorable to digestion. Pure, fresh 
water has the following advantages, which certainly 
must inspire us with respect for it. 

The element of water is the greatest and only pro- 
moter of digestion, by its coldness and fixed air it is 
an excellent strengthener and reviver of the stomach 
and nerves. On account of its abundance of fixed air, 
and the saline particles it contains, it is a powerful pre- 
ventative of bile and putrefaction. It assists all the 
secretions of the body. Without water there could be 
no excretion ; as, according to the latest experiments, 
oxygen is a component part of it, by drinking water we 
actually imbibe a new stimulus of life. 

I cannot here omit to say something in favor of 
soups, (liquid nourishment,) since it has been lately 
fashionable to decry them as prejudicial. 

The moderate use of soups is certainly not hurtful ; 
and it is singular that people should imagine that it 
tends too much to relax the stomach. Does not all our 
drink, even though cold, become in a few minutes a 
kind of warm soup in the stomach ; and does not the 
stomach retain the same temperature during the whole 
day ? Be careful only not to use it hot, in too great 
quantity at one time, or too watery. It is attended 


even with great advantages. It supplies the place of 
drink, particularly to men of letters, women, and all 
those who do not drink, or drink very little except at 
table, and who, when they give over soup, receive into 
their blood too little moisture. And it is here to be 
remarked, that fluids used in % the form of soup unite 
much better and sooner with our juices than when 
drunk cold and raw. On this account soup is a great 
preventative of dryness and rigidity in the body, and 
therefore the best nourishment for old people, and those 
who are of an arid temperament. It even supplies 
the place of medicine. After catching cold, in ner- 
vous headaches, colics, and different kinds of cramp 
in the stomach, warm soup is of excellent service. It 
may serve as a proof of the utility, or at least ham- 
lessness, of soup, when I remark that our forefathers, 
who certainly had more strength than we have, used 
soup ; that it is used by rustics, who are stronger than 
those in refined life ; and that all the old people with 
whom I ever was acquainted were great friends to it. 
Wine rejoices the heart of man, but it is by no means 
necessary for long life, since those who never drank 
it seem to have become oldest. Nay, as a stimulant, 
which accelerates vital consumption, it may tend very 
much to shorten life, when used too frequently, or in 
too great abundance. To render it friendly and not 
prejudicial to life, it must be drunk daily, but always 
in moderation : the younger a man is in less, and the 
older in the greater quantity. It is best when one 
considers and uses wine as the seasoning of life, and 
reserves it for days of mirth and recreation to enliven 
the friendly circle. 


Mental tranquillity. Contentment. Dispositions of mind, and 
employments which tend to prolong life. 

PEACE of mind, cheerfulness, and contentment, are 
the foundation of all happiness, all health, and long 
life. Some may here say, these are means which we 
have not in our power ; they depend upon external 
circumstances. But to me it appears that the case is 
not so : for, otherwise, the great and rich would be the 
most contented and happy, and the poor the most 
miserable. Experience, however, shows the contrary ; 
and more contentment, without doubt, is to be found 
amidst poverty, than among the class of the rich and 

There are sources then of contentment and happiness 
which lie in ourselves, and which we ought carefully to 
search out and to use. Let me here be permitted to 
mention a few of these helps, recommended by the 
simplest philosophy, and which I offer merely as rules 
of regimen, the good advice of a physician how to pro- 
long life. 

1st. Endeavor above all things to subdue your pas- 
sions. A man who is continually subject to the im- 
pulse of his passions, is always in an extreme and ex- 
alted state, and can never attain that peaceful frame so 
necessary for the support of life. His internal vital 


consumption is thereby dreadfully increased, and he 
must soon be destroyed. 

2nd. People should accustom themselves to consider 
life not as an object, but the means of attaining to 
higher perfection : and our existence and fate as always 
directed to a higher aim, and subjected to a more ex- 
alted power. They should never lose sight of that 
point of view which the ancients named trust in provi- 
dence. They will thus have the best clue to direct 
their way through the labyrinth of life, and the great- 
est security against all attacks by which their peace of 
mind might be disturbed. 

3rd. Live always, but in the proper sense, for the 
day ; that is, employ every day as if it were your last, 
without taking any thought for to-morrow. Unhappy 
men who still think of what is to come, and, amidst 
your plans and projects for the future, lose the enjoy- 
ment of the present ! The present is the parent of the 
future ; and he who fully employs each day and each 
hour according to its destination, can in the evening lie 
down to repose with the agreeable satisfaction of hav- 
ing not only lived that day and fulfilled its object, but 
of having also laid the best foundation for the enjoy- 
ment of the future. 

4th. Endeavor to form as just conceptions as possible 
of every event, and you will find that the greater part 
of the evils in the world arise from mistakes, false in- 
terest, or precipitation; and that the principal point 
is not so much what is done to us, as how we take it. 
He who possesses this happy talent is independent of 
external circumstances. As Weishaupt has said, " It is 
certain that wisdom alone is the source of pleasure, 


and that folly is the source of misery. Without a total 
resignation in the will of providence, a conviction that 
all events are ordered for x>ur good, and that content- 
ment with the world which thence arises, every thing 
is folly, and will lead to dissatisfaction." 

5th. One should always strengthen and confirm more 
and more one's trust and confidence in mankind, and in 
all the noble virtues, benevolence, friendship, affection, 
and humanity which thence arise. Consider every 
man as good, till you are convinced of the contrary 
by incontestable proofs ; and even then man ought to 
be looked upon as a being misled by error, who de- 
serves our compassion much rather than our hatred. 
Man indeed would be good, were he not seduced by 
ignorance, misconception, and false interest. "Woe to 
those whose philosophy consists in trusting no one ! 
Their life is a continual state of defensive and offensive 
war ; and they must bid farewell to cheerfulness and 
contentment. The more a man entertains good wishes 
to all around him, the more will he render others 
happy, and the more happiness will he himself enjoy. 

6th. To promote contentment and peace of mind, 
Hope is indispensably necessary. He who can hope 
prolongs his existence, not merely in idea, but physi- 
cally, by the peace and equanimity which he thus 
secures. I do not allude here to hope within the 
narrow boundaries of our present existence, but to 
hope beyond the grave ! In my opinion, hope in im- 
mortality is the only hope that can make life of any 
value, and render the burdens of it easy and support- 
able. Hope and Faith, ye great and divine virtues ! 
who, without you, is able to wander through a life so 


full of error and deceit, whose beginning, as well as 
end, is involved in thick darkness ; the duration of 
which is a moment, and in which we scarcely begin to 
look forwards to futurity when we are swallowed up 
by destruction. Ye are the only supports of the waver- 
ing ; the greatest revivers of the weary traveller. 
Those who do not honor you as exalted virtues, must em- 
brace you as indispensable assistants in this terrestrial 
life, and endeavor to be strong in you through a love 
for themselves, if not through a love for the things that 
are invisible. In this respect one can say that re- 
ligion itself may be a means for prolonging life. The 
more it subdues the passions, promotes self-denial, pro- 
duces internal tranquillity, and enlivens the above con- 
soling truths, the more will it serve to extend the 
period of mortal existence. 

Joy, also, is one of the greatest panaceas of life. 
One must not, however, believe that it is always ne- 
cessary to excite it by sought-for events and fortunate 
incidents. By that frame of mind which I have al- 
ready delineated, people may be rendered susceptible 
of it ; and those who have attained to that happy dis- 
position will never want opportunities of rejoicing. 
But one should never neglect to seek and employ 
every occasion of indulging in joy that is pure aifd not 
too violent. No joy is more healthful, or better calcu- 
lated to prolong life, than that which is to be found in 
domestic happiness, in the company of cheerful and 
good men, and in contemplating with delight the beau- 
ties of Nature. A day spent in the country, under 
a serene sky, amidst a circle of agreeable friends, is 
certainly a more positive means of prolonging life than 


all the vital elixirs in the world. Laughter, that ex- 
ternal expression of joy, must not here be omitted, 
It is the most salutary of all the bodily movements ; 
for it agitates both the body and the soul at the same 
time ; promotes digestion, circulation, and respiration ; 
and enlivens the vital power in every organ. 

The higher pursuits and employment of the mind 
deserve here a place also ; but I must remark, that it \ 
will be necessary to observe those prudential rules, 
which I have already laid down, to prevent an abuse 
of them. These higher enjoyments and pleasures are 
entirely peculiar to man, and an important source of 
vital restoration. Among these I reckon, above all, 
the reading of agreeable and instructive books; the 
study of interesting sciences ; contemplating Nature, 
and examining her secrets ; the discovering of new 
truths, by the combination of ideas, improving con- 
versation, etc. 


Reality of character. 

IT is well known how extremely prejudicial to life is 
that occupation which renders it necessary for a man to 
exist some hours daily in an assumed state, not natural 
to him, I mean the employment of a player. 

What then must the case be with those people who 
always carry on a like occupation, who are continually 
acting this or the other feigned part on the grand thea- 
tre of the world, and who never really are what they 
appear to be? Those indeed who are deceitful, live 
always under disguise, restraint, and a false character. 
They may be found, above all, among the over refined 
and too highly cultivated classes of mankind : but I am 
acquainted with no condition more unnatural. 

It is bad enough to be obliged to wear clothes not 
made for us, which everywhere pinch and confine us, 
and which render every movement painful. But what 
is this to wearing a false character; to a moral 
restraint, where our words, conduct, gestures, and ac- 
tions, are in continual opposition to our internal feel- 
ings and wishes ; where we violently suppress our 
strongest natural propensities, and assume foreign ones ; 
and where we are obliged to keep continually strained, 
every nerve and every vessel, in order to carry on that 
deception which is our whole existence ? Such a false 


state is nothing else than a continual cramp ; and this 
is proved by the consequences. An incessant restless- 
ness and anxiety, deranged circulation and digestion, 
continued contradiction both physical and moral, are 
its unavoidable effects. In the end, it becomes impossi- 
ble for these unfortunate men to lay aside this assumed 
character ; so that it becomes a second nature. They 
are at length lost, and cannot again find themselves. 
In a word, this false state keeps up continually a secret 
nervous fever. Internal irritation, and external cramp, 
are, both, parts of it ; and it must lead to destruction 
and the grave, the only place where such wretched be- 
ings can hope ever to lay aside the mask. 


Agreeable stimulants of the senses and of sensation 
moderately used. 

THESE have a double effect in the prolongation of 
life. In the first place, by their immediate influence 
on the vital power, they enliven, strengthen, and exalt 
it ; and, secondly, by increasing the activity of the 
whole machine, they put into much greater activity the 
organs of digestion, circulation, and secretion, which 
perform the most important functions of restoration. 
A certain cultivation and refinement of our sensibility 
is therefore healthful and necessary ; because it renders 
us more susceptible of these enjoyments ; only it must 
not be carried too far, else it may become a disease. 
In stimulating the senses also great care must be taken 
not to exceed the proper measure ; for the same enjoy- 
ment which, when used in a moderate degree, is capa- 
ble of restoring, may, if used too much, consume and 

All agreeable stimulants, which can affect us through 
the sight, hearing, smell, taste, and feeling, may be in- 
cluded under this head ; and therefore the pleasures of 
music, painting, and the other imitative arts, poetry, 
etc., as they can exalt and renew these enjoyments. 
In the present view, however, it appears to me that 
Music deserves the preference, because no mental im- 


pression can have so speedy and immediate an effect in 
tuning, enlivening, and regulating the vital operations. 
Our whole frame assumes spontaneously the tone and 
character of the music; the pulse becomes either 
quicker, or more calm ; the passions are roused, or soft- 
ened, according to the will of this language of the soul, 
which, without words, merely through the power of 
melody and harmony, acts immediately upon our most 
internal organs, and by these means enchants us often 
more irresistibly than eloquence itself. It is much to 
be wished that the study of music in this view were 
more common, and that it were more employed for 
such a noble purpose. 


Preventing diseases. Judicious treatment of them. Proper use of 
medicine and physicians. 

DISEASES, as has been already shown, belong for 
the most part, to those causes which shorten life, and 
are even capable of breaking the vital thread abruptly. 
The business of medicine is to guard against these, as 
well as to cure them : and so far medicine may be 
considered and employed as a mean for prolonging life. 

But error, here, is too common. Sometimes it is be- 
lieved that this beneficial art can never be sufficiently 
employed, and that people can never take too many 
medicines. Sometimes it is so much abhorred, as some- 
thing unnatural, that too few are used ; and sometimes 
the falsest conceptions are formed of medicine, as well 
as of physicians ; and both are employed in an impro- 
per manner. To this may be added, in modern times, 
a multitude of popular books, by which a great deal of 
crude, undigested information on medical subjects has 
been diffused among the public ; and hence a greater 
misapplication of medicine has been occasioned, and the 
utmost injury to the health of mankind in general. 

It is impossible for every one to be a physician. 
Physic is a science so extensive and difficult, that it re- 
quires close and long-continued study, and even a pecu- 
liar formation of mind and of the higher powers of the 


soul. An acquaintance with the rules and means for 
curing diseases does not form a physician, as some im- 
agine. These rules and means are the result of medi- 
cal experience ; and he only who can perceive the con- 
nection of them with the causes of disease, and the 
whole chain of grounds and inferences from which they 
are deduced, in a word, who can himself discover these 
means, deserves to be called a physician. From this 
it appears that the art of medicine never can be known 
by the generality of the public. 

That branch of the medical art only which teaches 
an acquaintance with the human body, so far as it 
may be useful for every man to know, and the method 
and manner of guarding against diseases and preserv- 
ing health, both individually and generally, can, or 
ought to, form a part of that instruction and informa- 
tion which should be communicated to the public. 
This is evident from the simple idea of disease, and the 
helps to be applied. What is meant by administering 
medicines and curing diseases ? Nothing else than by 
an unusual impression to produce an unusual change 
in the human body, by which an unnatural state named 
disease may be removed. Disease and the operation 
of medicines are each an unnatural state ; and the ap- 
plication of medicine is nothing else than exciting an 
artificial disease, in order to expel one that is natu- 
ral. This may be seen when a man in good health 
takes physic, which will always render him ill in a 
greater or less degree. The use of medicine is, there- 
fore, of itself prejudicial ; and can be excused and ren- 
dered healthful only when a more diseased state of the 
body is thereby removed. This right of making one's 


self or others sick artificially, ought never to be exer- 
cised but by those who are sufficiently able to discover 
what proportion the disease may bear to the means ; 
consequently, by physicians ; otherwise it may happen 
that, when the means perhaps are altogether unneces- 
sary, one may be rendered ill ; or that the means will 
not be suited to the disease, and therefore the poor 
patient must suffer under two maladies instead of hav- 
ing one ; or that the means may promote and increase 
the diseased state already existing. In cases of disease 
it will be far better to use no medicine at all, than to 
employ that which is not proper. 

As none, therefore, but people regularly bred, ought 
to be allowed to practise medicine, this important ques- 
tion arises : How must medicine be used when we wish 
to employ it as the means of prolonging life ? In order 
to answer the above question, I shall here give some 
general rules and definitions. 

But, first, let me be permitted to say a few words on 
a part of this research, which, though most interesting 
to the physician, is of too much importance even to 
others to be passed over in silence. I mean, How does 
the practice of physic, in general, contribute to the pro- 
longation of life ? Can one consider it absolutely as a 
means for prolonging our existence ? Without doubt 
we can, so far as it cures disorders that might destroy 
us, but not always in other respects: and I shall 
here add, for the consideration of my medical brethren, 
a few observations which may show that to restore 
health and prolong life are not the same ; and that the 
point is not merely to cure a disease, but how it is cured. 
First, it is certain, from what has been said, that medi- 


cine operates by occasioning an artificial illness. Every 
disease is attended with irritation and a loss of power* 
If the medicine, therefore, be more powerful than the 
disease, the patient will be cured ; but he will be more 
weakened by the process of the cure, and more will be 
deducted from the duration of his life than would have 
been taken from it by the disease. This is the case 
when people, on trifling occasions, employ immediately 
the most powerful. and the most violent medicines. Se- 
condly, a disease may be cured by various ways and 
methods. The difference is, that one leads the crisis 
sometimes to one part, and sometimes to another ; or 
that the disorder is removed sooner by one method, and 
more slowly by another. These different modes of 
cure may all, however, lead to a restoration of health, 
but be of very different effect in regard to the prolon- 
gation of life. The more a cure allows the disease to 
continue, and to weaken the powers and the organs ; 
or the more it affects the organs necessary for life, or 
conducts the disease thither, and consequently impedes 
afterwards vital restoration (as for example, when the 
important system of digestion is made the seat of the 
disease, and weakened by powerful remedies) ; or lastly, 
the more a cure wastes unnecessarily the vital power in 
general, as by too profusely bleeding, withdrawing 
the usual nourishment too incessantly, etc., the more 
will it weaken the grounds of longevity, even though it 
may remove the disease. Thirdly, one must never for- 
get that disease itself may be useful and necessary for 
prolonging life. There are many diseases which are 
nothing else than an exertion of Nature to restore equili- 
brium that has been destroyed, to evacuate corrupted 


matter, or to dissipate obstructions. If a physician, 
therefore, (according to the true Brownonian method,) 
does nothing more than check the disease from showing 
itself outwardly, without paying attention to remote 
causes and consequences, he only destroys the active 
counteraction of Nature, by which it endeavors to re- 
move the real disease : he quenches the fire outwardly, 
but suffers it to burn more violently within. He nour- 
ishes the germ, the material cause of the evil, which 
perhaps would have been banished by this process of 
Nature had it been suffered to be completed, and ren- 
ders it stronger and more incurable. We have too 
many instances of patients who believed themselves 
perfectly cured of a fever or the dysentery, and who 
afterwards became hectic, or fell into the hypochon- 
driasis, nervous weakness and the like. No one will 
deny that such a cure, though it seems for the present 
to restore the patient to health, may nevertheless 
shorten the duration of his life. 

I shall now proceed to answer a question which con- 
cerns those only who are not physicians : By what means 
can diseases be prevented; how ought those which have 
already appeared to be treated; and, in particular, how 
ought physicians and the medical art to be employed in' 
order to contribute in the highest degree possible to the 
support and prolongation of 'life ? 

But let me first speak of the means to be used for 
preventing diseases. As there are two things which 
belong to the origin of every disease, the cause that 
excites it, and the capacity of the body for being 
affected by this cause, there are two ways by which 
disease may be prevented, either to remove that cause, 


or to destroy the sensibility of the body in regard to it ; 
and upon this is founded the whole medical dietetic, and 
all the preventative methods. The first method which 
has been most commonly pursued, is the most uncer- 
tain ; for, as long as we are not able to alter our mode 
of living, it will be impossible to guard against every 
cause of disease; and the more we deviate from it, 
the more we shall be affected by them when they 
attack us. For instance, cold never hurts any one so 
much as those who, in general, keep themselves ex- 
ceedingly warm. Far better is the second method, 
to endeavor to guard against hose causes of disease 
which can be avoided; and to accustom one's self to 
the rest, in order that the body may be rendered insen- 
sible to them. 

The principal causes of disease, which can, -in a great 
measure, be guarded against, are, intemperance in eat- 
ing and drinking, immoderate enjoyment of physical 
love, great heat and cold, or a sudden transition from 
the one to the other; passions, violent exertion of 
the mind, too much or too little sleep, checked evacua- 
tions, and poisons. 

One ought, however, to render the body less sus- 
ceptible of these causes, or to harden it pathologically ; 
and for that purpose I recommend the following 
means : First, the daily enjoyment of free air. In 
good or bad weather, during rain, wind or snow, the 
excellent practice of walking or riding for a few hours 
in the open air, must be continued every day without 
exception. This will contribute in an incredible degree 
to harden the constitution, and to promote longevity; 
and, when done daily, the body will soon become so 


strong as to be affected by no kind of weather. It is 
to be recommended, therefore, in particular, to those 
who are subject to the gout and the rheumatism. 
Secondly, to wash daily the whole body with cold 
water ; not to keep one's self too warm ; and to pre- 
serve the activity of the body. Never let the body 
sink into too passive a state, but endeavor, by muscular 
motion, friction, and gymnastic exercises, to keep up in 
it a kind of counteraction. The more passive the 
body is, the more susceptible will it be of disease. 
Lastly, a certain freedom and immunity from restraint 
in your way of life ; that is to say, do not bind your- 
self too rigidly to certain rules and habits, but allow 
yourself a moderate indulgence. Those who confine 
themselves with too much severity to order and r ^gi- 
men, be they ever so good, make themselves thereby 
more susceptible of disease ; for if they deviate in the 
least from what is now become to them a second nature, 
some kind of indisposition will be the consequence. A 
little irregularity, by the gentle revolutions which it 
effects in the body, may be of great use in purifying, 
opening, and dissipating; and even pernicious things 
lose a great deal of their noxious quality when one is 
accustomed to them. A little less sleep than usual ; 
to drink sometimes a glass more than common; to 
eat a little more food, or substances harder of digestion ; 
to expose oneself to cold or heat by riding, dancing, 
and the like ; to take exercise till one is tired, and 
sometimes to fast a day, are all means, therefore, that 
contribute to harden the body, and which give more 
latitude to the health, as they free it from too slavish a 


dependence on the uniformity of habit, to which it is 
not always possible for us to be confined. 

A grand point in guarding against disease is, that 
every one should try to discover to what malady he 
is constitutionally most disposed, in order that this 
tendency may be destroyed, or at least that all oppor- 
tunity of its being converted into disease may be re- 
moved. On this is grounded individual regimen ; and 
every man ought to observe that which is proper for 
him, so far as to counteract his particular morbific dis- 
position. To inquire into and determine this point is 
indeed the business principally of the medical practi- 
tioner ; and I am therefore of opinion, that people, on 
a subject of so much moment, should consult an intelli- 
gent physician, and allow him to judge what diseases 
they have the greatest disposition to, and what regi- 
men may be best suited for them. In this respect the 
ancients were more prudent than we. They employed 
the medical art and physicians chiefly for determining 
their dietetic mode of life ; and even their astrological, 
chi romantic, and other researches of the like kind, 
tended, at bottom, to define the moral and physical 
character of man, and to prescribe for him accordingly 
a proper mode of living and regimen. They undoubt- 
edly did much better in thus employing their physi- 
cians than if they had run to them every week to make 
them prescribe for them purgatives or emetics. But 
for this purpose a judicious, prudent, and acute physi- 
cian is necessary ; while, on the other hand, any em* 
piric is capable of writing a prescription. These people, 
at any rate, had a surer means of distinguishing a false 
from a true prophet. 


That those unacquainted with the medical art may 
be enabled, as much as possible, to determine the na- 
ture of their constitution, and what tendency it has to 
disease, I shall here give the following rules : 

1st. Examine what disposition to disease you inherit 
from your parents. There are certain morbific ten- 
dencies which may be communicated by generation, 
such as to the gout, indigestion, nervous weakness, and 
consumption. If these evils have taken root in the 
parents, there is great reason to suspect a disposition 
to them in the children. By a proper regimen they 
can, however, be prevented from attaining to a great 

2nd. A disposition to some disorders may be created 
by the first treatment in infancy ; especially if a child 
be kept too warm, which excites a tendency to perspi- 
ration, renders the skin flaccid, and, by these means, 
disposes the body to rheumatic disorders. Too early 
application to learning, gives a tendency to nervous 
weakness, and diseases of the nerves. 

3rd. A tendency to certain diseases is connected 
with some forms and kinds of bodily structure. Those 
who are tall and thin, who have a long slender neck y 
a flat breast, projecting shoulders, and who have grown- 
up suddenly to a great height, must be on their guard 
chiefly against consumptions, and in particular as long 
as they are under the age of thirty. Those who have 
a short thickset body, a large thick head, with a short 
neck, so that the head seems to be stuck between the 
shoulders, show a disposition to apoplexy; and must 
beware of every thing that may give occasion to that 
disease. In general, all overgrown people have a ten- 


deney more or less to consumption and disorders of the 

4th. Every man ought carefully to examine his tem- 
perament. If it be sanguine or choleric, it gives a 
tendency to inflammation ; but if phlegmatic or melan- 
cholic, to chronic diseases and weakness of the nerves. 

5th. The climate also, and the spot in which one 
lives, may create a tendency to disease. If they are 
cold and damp, one may rest assured that they will 
produce a disposition to nervous and bilious fevers, 
ague, gout, and rheumatism. 

6th. To pay attention, in particular, to one's weakest 
part is of importance. Every man, in a physical sense, 
has his weak side ; and all causes of disease are ac- 
customed, in general, to fix themselves in those parts 
which are by nature weakest. Those, for example, 
who have weak lungs, will be affected chiefly in that 
part ; and every thing almost will give rise to a catarrh 
or disorder of the chest. If the stomach be weak, it 
will be acted upon by every slight cause ; and indiges- 
tion, crudity, and foulness of it will be the consequence. 
If one is acquainted with these parts, one may contrib- 
ute very much to the prevention of disease, and the 
prolongation of life ; partly by guarding them against 
morbific causes, and partly by strengthening them, and 
depriving them of their too great sensibility. As much 
depends, therefore, on acquiring the art how to dis- 
cover the weakest parts of one's body, I shall give the 
following signs, which may be understood by those 
even who are not physicians : Observe on what 
parts any mental shock, or violent affection, produces 
the greatest effect; for these are the weakest. If 


these causes immediately excite a cough or uneasy 
sensation in the chest, the lungs are the part pointed 
out ; if they occasion a compression of the stomach, 
flatulency, and the like, one may be assured that the 
weak part is the stomach. Observe also where the 
effects of other morbific influences are reflected; as, 
for example, the effects of a surfeit, a cold, overheating, 
violent exercise, etc. If the chest be attacked, that 
may be considered as the weakest part. It is of equal 
importance to observe which way the blood and juices 
have the greatest tendency ; what parts are usually the 
reddest and the hottest, and where perspiration appears 
in the greatest abundance ; for, there, if the rest of the 
body do not perspire, will disease most readily fix itself. 
One may also, in general, conclude that any part wnich 
one uses violently and immoderately, or which one 
overstrains, will become weaker : for example, the 
brain among studious people ; the chest among singers ; 
the stomach among gluttons, etc. 

I shall now proceed to answer the question, In what 
manner should a disease which has already taken place 
be treated, and ivhat use ought to be made of physicians 
and of the medical art ? The most important part of 
the answer may be reduced to the following rules : 

1st. Never use medicine without a sufficient cause ; 
for, who wish to make themselves sick unnecessarily ? 
The custom, therefore, of purging, bleeding, and the 
like, at stated periods, merely for the purpose of guard- 
ing against a possible evil, is highly prejudicial. This 
practice often gives rise to those disorders which one 
endeavors to avoid. 

2d. It is much better to prevent diseases than to cure 


them ; for the latter is always connected with a greater 
loss of the powers, and consequently of vital duration. 
Let the above means, therefore, for guarding against 
them be carefully observed. 

3d. As soon, however, as disease makes its appear- 
ance, the greatest attention ought to be paid to it ; for 
the most trifling indisposition may conceal under it a 
very serious malady. This is the case, in particular, 
with feverish disorders. The commencement of them 
is shown by the following symptoms : One experi- 
ences an uncommon lassitude ; the appetite fails, and 
one has a much greater desire for drinking ; the sleep 
is interrupted or disturbed by dreams ; the usual ex- 
cretions are checked, or increased in an unnatural 
manner ; one has no inclination for labor, and is af- 
fected by headache, and a greater or less degree of 
coldness, which is followed by heat. 

4th. As soon as one perceives these symptoms, 
nothing is so necessary as to lessen one's nourishment, 
which strengthens the disease, and to follow the benefi- 
cent instinct of Nature, which every animal, to its great 
advantage, obeys on such occasions. Let the patient 
abstain from eating ; for Nature, by rejecting food, 
shows that she is incapable of digesting it ; and let him 
drink a little more than usual, but only water, or some 
other light beverage. One ought also to be kept 
quiet ; to lie in the best position, for the lassitude suffi- 
ciently shows that Nature requires her strength for 
modifying the disease ; and one ought to avoid both 
heat and cold, consequently should neither go out into 
the open air, nor be shut up in a warm apartment. 
These simple means, prescribed to us so clearly by 


Nature herself, are capable, would we only listen to 
her voice, of checking an infinite number of diseases in 
their very birth. Old Macklin, that veteran of the 
London stage, who died in his 99th year, used to say, 
that, when he found himself ill, during the long course 
of his life, he always went to bed took nothing but 
bread and water and that by this regimen he was 
generally relieved from every slight indisposition. I 
knew a respectable magistrate of fourscore, who, when 
indisposed, did nothing else than fast, smoke tobacco, 
and observe the above rules ; by which means he had 
never occasion for medicine. 

5th. If one has an opportunity of conversing with a 
physician, he ought to be consulted, not so much 
respecting prescriptions, as the state of one's body. 
Should such an opportunity be wanting, it is much bet- 
ter to prevent by the negative method an increase of 
the disease, than to employ any thing positive, which 
may perhaps do hurt. No medicine, indeed, ought to 
be considered as a matter of indifference. Purgatives 
even, if used at an improper time, may be highly pre- 
judicial. If my readers be desirous of knowing the 
most harmless, it is a teaspoonful of cream of tartar 
stirred round in a glass of water; or the following 
draught, which certainly is one of the most general 
remedies for feverish disorders : Take half an ounce 
of cream of tartar, and boil it with six pounds of water, 
in a new earihen pot, until the powder is wholly dis- 
solved. After it is taken from the fire, add to it an 
orange cut into slices, with from an ounce and a half to 
three ounces of sugar, according to taste, and then put 
it into bottles for use. This may serve as one's com- 
mon beverage. 


6th. Be ingenuous with your physician, and give 
him a true account of your past life, so far as it may 
relate to the disease ; and forget no unfavorable cir- 
cumstance, especially when the case is stated in writ- 
ing. Avoid, in particular, all reasoning on it, which is 
a common fault, or of giving any representation accord- 
ing to a preconceived opinion, but relate merely what 
you have observed in as unprejudiced a manner as 

7th. Make choice of a physician in whom you can 
place confidence, but none of those who deal in arcana, 
who are too talkative or inquisitive, who value them- 
selves above others, or who endeavor to make the con- 
duct of others appear in a dubious light; for this 
always betrays ignorance, a bad head, or a bad heart ; 
in short, none of those who are fond of prescribing 
strong powerful medicines, or who, according to the 
common saying, will either cure or kill. 

8th. Avoid in particular a physician whose princi- 
pal object in his practice is avarice or ambition. A 
real physician ought to have no objects but the health 
and preservation of his patients ; any others mislead 
him from the true path, and may be attended with the 
most prejudicial consequences to those who employ 
him. If he happen to be so situated with a case, that 
either his reputation or his pocket will suffer, if he 
venture any thing for the relief of his patient, he will 
certainly rather allow the patient to die than lose his 
reputation. He will also be interested in the fate of 
his patients, in proportion to their rank and their 

9th. The best physician is he who is at the same 


time a friend. One may be open-hearted with such a 
man, and place confidence in him. He is acquainted 
with his patients, and observes them when in a state of 
health, which is of the utmost importance to enable him 
to treat them in a proper manner when attacked by 
disease. In short, he is strongly interested in their 
condition, and will exert himself with more activity and 
attention to restore their health, than the physician who 
acts merely in that capacity. People, therefore, ought 
to do every thing in their power to unite themselves in 
the tenderest bonds of friendship with their physician ; 
and never to dissolve their intimacy by want of confi- 
dence, peevishness, pride, or any other impropriety of 
behavior, which is so often shown towards physicians, 
but always with more injury to the patient. 

10th. Be greatly on your gaurd against any physi- 
cian who prepares and employs secret medicines ; for 
he is either an interested man, who values his own 
advantage far above the lives and health of his patients, 
or an ignorant impostor ; and no impostor is more 
destructive than he who deprives you, not only of your 
money, but also of your health. If a secret be of any 
value, and useful to mankind, it should be the property 
of the public, and ought to be made known for the gen- 
eral benefit ; and he who discloses it is entitled without 
doubt to immortal honor. Those also who conceal 
such remedies do injury to thousands ; because people 
cannot use them properly, not being well enough 
acquainted with them ; or because they cannot be pro- 
cured in common, and be employed by a judicious phy- 

llth. Nowhere, in general, ought one to be more 


attentive to morality of character than in the choice of 
a physician ; for where is it more necessary ? If he to 
whom you blindly intrust your life, who is subject to 
no tribunal but that of his conscience, and who, to dis- 
charge in a complete manner the duty of his calling, 
must sacrifice all rest and pleasure, nay his own health 
and life, if this man do not act according to the pure 
principles of morality, but makes policy, as it is called, 
his motive, he is a detestable and dangerous character, 
and ought to be avoided with greater care than the 
most destructive disease. A physician without morals 
is not a nonentity he is a monster. 

12th. If people, however, meet with an able and 
honest physician, they ought to intrust themselves to 
him with full confidence. This will tend to make the 
minds of the patients quiet, and be of great service to 
assist the physician in effecting a cure. Many believe, 
that the more physicians they collect around them, the 
more certain they must be of relief ; but this is a gross 
error. I here speak from experience. One physician 
is better than two two than three and so on in 
proportion. In the same ratio as physicians are 
increased will the probability of cure decrease ; and 
in my opinion, there is a certain point of medical over- 
loading, in which a cure is physically impossible. 
Some cases, indeed, may occur, but very seldom, in 
which a disorder, by being secret or complex, may 
require a consultation of several. One, however, 
ought to call in only those who are known to be 
judicious men, and who will act in concert ; and to 
employ such consultations for discovering and defining 
the disease, and to form a plan of the method to be fol- 


lowed in the cure. The application of it should always 
be permitted to one, and to that practitioner in whom 
people have the greatest confidence. 

13th. One ought carefully to observe the crises, or 
helps and means of which Nature seems to be fondest, 
and which she perhaps may have employed on former 
occasions, and whether she is accustomed to assist her- 
self by perspiration, diarrhoea, bleeding at the nose, or 
otherwise. The same means one must endeavor to 
promote in every disease of the like kind ; and such 
information is of great importance to the physician. 

14th. To pay attention to cleanliness is a precept 
indispensably necessary to be observed in regard to 
every disease ; for, by means of dirt, any disorder may 
be converted into one putrid, and far more dangerous. 
By neglecting this point, therefore, people injure not 
only their friends and relations, but also the physician, 
who may thus be deprived of his own health. The 
patient's linen, on this account, ought to be changed 
daily, but at the same time with some caution ; the air 
ought to be renewed in his apartment, and all offensive 
matters should be speedily conveyed from it. As few 
people as possible should bfe suffered to continue in it ; 
and all animals, flowers, remains of food, old clothes, 
and in short every thing that may produce evaporation, 
ought to be removed from it. 


Relief in cases where one is exposed to the danger of sudden 

THERE are certain causes which, where the health is 
perfectly sound, and where one has the best capacity for 
long life, may suddenly interrupt and destroy the vital 
operation. I here allude to the violent causes of sudden 
death ; and as to lessen these, or to render them harm- 
less, is an important part of the art of preserving and 
prolonging life, I shall lay before my readers what in- 
formation may be necessary on the subject. 

To this head belong all violent kinds of death, which 
may be effected either by mechanical injuries, or organic 
derangement ; and they may all be reduced to three 
classes. They either render the vital organs unfit for 
performing their functions ; destroy suddenly the vital 
power, as lightning, violent passion, and the greater part 
of poisons ; or they suddenly destroy vital irritability, 
without the continual agency of which there could be no 
vital exertion. 

The method of counteracting these is twofold. One 
can either guard against them or destroy their effect 
after they have already begun to act. 

I shall first speak of the means by which one can 
guard against them. It is impossible to keep at a dis- 
tance all these causes ; for they are so connected with 


our life, and in particular with the employment of many, 
that one must resign life itself in order to avoid them. 
We can, however, procure to our bodies a great degree 
of immunity from them, and give it some properties by 
which it will be put in such a condition as to sustain 
little or no hurt from them when they approach it. 
There is, therefore, an objective and a subjective art of 
guarding against the dangers of death ; and the latter is 
that in which every one should endeavor to acquire a 
certain degree of perfection. In my opinion, it is neces- 
sary for the formation and education of man. The 
means are exceedingly simple. 

1st. Endeavor to give to the body the utmost possible 
agility and readiness in all bodily exercises. A suffi- 
cient cultivation of the corporeal powers, by running, 
climbing, tumbling, swimming, walking on any narrow 
ridge, etc. will be a great means of securing one from 
dangerous accidents ; and were such a part of education 
more common, fewer people would lose their lives by 
drowning, falls, and other misfortunes of the like kind. 

2d. The judgment should be formed, and one's 
knowledge rectified, by the study of natural philosophy, 
and natural history, in regard to every pernicious pow- 
er. To this belongs an acquaintance with the nature of 
poisons ; the properties of lightning, and the means of 
avoiding it ; the noxious quality and effects of mephitic 
air, frost, etc. To give sufficient cautions on this sub- 
ject, it would be necessary for me to write a whole 
treatise ; and I sincerely wish that some one would 
undertake such a work, and that it may be introduced 
into schools. 

3d. Endeavor to render the mind intrepid ; to give it 


strength and philosophical equanimity ; and accustom it 
to sudden and unexpected events. This will be doubly 
beneficial. One will thereby guard against the physical 
injury of sudden and alarming impressions, and will 
have more presence of mind to pursue the means proper 
to be used in cases of sudden danger. 

4th. Give to the body a sufficient degree of harden- 
ing against cold and heat, or any changes of the like 
kind. Those who possess this property will be able to 
brave death on many occasions, when others will be 
obliged to submit to it. 

But, in regard to the danger of death actually existing : 
What is to be done in cases of drowning, hanging, suffo- 
cation, poisoning, or being struck with lightning, etc. ? 
Even here there are means by which persons appar- 
ently dead have been happily brought again to life ; 
and this is a part of medicine which every man should 
understand, for such accidents may occur to every one, 
and every thing depends on assistance being given 
speedily. In cases of so much danger, each moment is 
precious ; and the simplest means employed imme- 
diately, may effect more than the whole wisdom of an 
JEsculapius could half an hour later. He who first 
arrives when an accident has taken place should con- 
sider it as his duty to apply help instantaneously, and 
carefully reflect that the life of an unfortunate being 
may depend on a minute sooner or later. 

The violent kinds of death, in regard to their treat- 
ment, may be divided into three classes. 

The first class comprehends suffocation by hanging, 
drowning, or foul air, and death, or the being struck by 
lightning, with the mode of treatment. The first and 


most effectual means in such cases are the follow- 
ing : 

1st. Be as expeditious as you can to draw the body 
from the water, or to cut the rope, in a word, to remove 
the cause of death. This alone is sufficient to save the 
unfortunate person, if it be done speedily ; but attention 
to that point is too much neglected. In most places, 
apparatus is kept for giving relief in such cases ; but 
people in general are so slow in applying it, that one 
might believe it intended rather for the funeral cere- 
mony, than for saving the life of a fellow-creature. I 
am, therefore, fully convinced, that better machinery 
for dragging up the bodies of drowned persons would 
be far more valuable than all the apparatus for restoring 
suspended animation; and when one sees how unwil- 
lingly and in how awkward a manner people undertake 
this business, how averse they are to it, and what pre- 
judice prevails against it, one will not wonder that so 
few unfortunate persons should be saved in Germany. 
I must therefore entreat all governments to endeavor 
to bring this part of the establishment for restoring life 
to greater perfection ; and here I include rooting out 
prejudice,* disputes respecting jurisdiction, the payment 
of the reward, and the punishment of voluntary delay. 

2d. The body should be immediately stripped, and 

* Of this kind is the shameful dread of the dishonor and dis- 
grace which attend the touching of such unfortunate people ; tho 
diabolical superstition of many fishermen, that one must not draw 
the body of a drowned person from the water before sunset, in 
order that the fish may not be frightened away ; or that some 
rivers must have an annual offering ; and other ideas of the like 
kind, which prevail among the vulgar much more than one might 


every endeavor should be made, as speedily as possible, 
to excite in it a general warmth. Heat is the first and 
most general stimulus of life. The same means which 
Nature employs to quicken life in the beginning, are 
also the most powerful to produce life a second time. 
The best thing for that purpose is the tepid bath ; but 
if this cannot be had, the patient may be covered with 
warm sand, ashes, or thick blankets in a bed ; and hot 
stones should be applied to various parts of the body. 
Without these means, all others will be of little avail ; 
and it is much better to warm thoroughly persons ap- 
parently dead, than to use cupping, friction, or the like, 
and at the same time to suffer them to become stiff with 

3d. To convey air into the lungs is the next process 
in point of importance, and may be connected with the 
excitation of heat. It is, indeed, most beneficial when 
it is done with oxygen gas by means of a pipe and a 
pair of bellows. But in urgent cases, and to save pre- 
cious time, it will be sufficient if one presses on the chest 
so as to expel the air which it contains, and then, by 
withdrawing the pressure, allows it to expand by its 
own elasticity, and thus fill the lungs with air. This 
should be done with regularity, so as to imitate ordinary 

4th. Let fall now and then, from a certain height, 
drops of frigid water or wine on the pit of the stomach. 
This sometimes has given the first stimulus to restore 
the motion of the heart. 

5th. Rub with a cloth or flesh-brush the hands and 
soles of the feet, the belly and the back : irritate the 
sensible parts of the body, such as the soles of the feet 


and hollow of the hands, by friction with stimulating 
oils ; the nose and throat, by means of a feather, or by 
holding to the nostrils, and dropping on the tongue, 
volatile spirit of ammonia, etc. 

6th. Ad soon as signs of life begin to appear, pour a 
spoonful of good wine into the mouth ; and when the 
patient swallows it, repeat the same thing often. In 
cases of necessity brandy may be used, but mixed with 
two-thirds of water. 

7th. For those who have been struck by lightning, 
the earth bath is to be recommended. The body may 
be either laid, with the mouth open, against a spot of 
earth newly dug up, or fresh earth may be scraped 
round it up to the neck. 

If these simple means, which every one can anl 
ought to use in regard to his fellow-citizens, when ex- 
posed to the danger of sudden death, be speedily em- 
ployed, they will be of more service than the most com- 
plete apparatus applied half an hour later ; and at any 
rate the intermediate time will not be entirely lost, and 
the feeble vital spark may be prevented from being 
totally extinguished. 

In the second class is comprehended those who have 
been frozen. These require a mode of treatment 
entirely different ; for by warmth they would be des- 
troyed altogether. Nothing further is to be done than 
to immerse them in snow up to the head ; or to place 
them in a bath of the coldest water that can be pro- 
cured without being frozen. Here life will return of 
itself; and as soon as any signs of it appear, give the 
patients a little warm tea with wine, and put them to 


The third class contains those who have been poi- 
soned. It is here to be observed, that we are in pos- 
session of two invaluable remedies, proper for any 
poison, which may be everywhere found, and which 
require no previous acquaintance with medicine I 
mean milk and oil. By the help of these only, the most 
dreadful of all the kinds of poisoning, that by arsenic, 
has been cured. Both of them answer the principal 
object, which is to expel the poison, or to destroy its 
power. Let persons therefore, who have been poi- 
soned, drink as much milk as they can (if it in part 
comes up again, so much the better) ; and let them, 
every quarter of an hour, take a cupful of oil of any 
sort ; for it is all the same whether it be oil of linseed, 
almonds, poppies, or common oil. If it be known with 
certainty that the poison is arsenic, corrosive sublimate, 
or any other metallic salt, dissolve soap in water, and 
let the patient swallow it. This will be sufficient till a 
physician arrive, and will often render his assistance 


Old age. Proper treatment of it. 

OLD age, though the natural consequence of living,, 
and the commencement of death, can itself, on the 
other hand, be a means for prolonging our existence. 
It does not, however, increase the power to live, but it 
retards its being exhausted ; and one may thus affirm, 
that a man in the last period of life, at the time when 
his powers are lessened, would, were he not old, finish 
his career sooner. 

This position, which appears to be somewhat para- 
doxical, is confirmed by the following explanation : 
Man, during the period of old age, has a much smaller 
provision of vital power, and much less capacity for 
restoration. If he lived with the same activity and 
vigor as before, this provision would be much sooner 
exh^isted, and death would soon be the consequence. 
Now the character of age lessens the natural irritability 
and sensibility of the body, by which the effects of in- 
ternal as well as external irritation, and consequently 
the exertion and wasting of the powers, are also les- 
sened ; and, on this account, as consumption is less, he 
can with such a stock of powers hold out much longer. 
The decrease of the intensity of the vital processes, as 
age increases, prolongs therefore vital duration. 

Irritability being thus lessened, lessens also the effect 


of pernicious impressions and morbid causes, such as 
the passions, overheating, etc.; it preserves likewise 
much greater quietness and uniformity in the internal 
economy, and in that manner secures the body from 
many diseases. It is observed that, for this reason 
also, old people are much less attacked by infectious 
disorders than those who are young. 

To this may be added the habit of living, which, 
without doubt, in the latter period of one's days, con- 
tributes to the support of life. An animal operation, 
which one has carried on so long, always in the same 
order and succession, becomes at last so customary that 
it continues through habit when the action of other 
causes ceases. It is often astonishing how the greatest 
debility of age will hold out, provided every thing 
remain in its usual order and succession. The spirit- 
ual man is sometimes actually dead; and yet the 
vegetative, the man-plant, still continues to live; but 
for the latter, indeed, much less is necessary. To this 
habit of life it is owing also that a man, the older he 
grows, becomes still fonder of existence. 

If old age, therefore, be properly treated and sup- 
ported, it can be employed, in some measure, . as a 
means of prolonging life ; but as this requires devia- 
tions from the general laws, I consider it necessary to 
give the rules proper to be observed. 

The principal points in this treatment are, that one 
must always endeavor to lessen and soften the increas- 
ing dryness and rigidity of the vessels, which at length 
occasion a complete stoppage- of the whole machine; 
that nourishment and restoration of what has been lost 
must be facilitated as much as possible ; that stronger 


irritation must be given to the body, because the natu- 
ral irritability is so much weakened ; and that one must 
promote excretion of the corrupted particles, which in 
old age is so imperfect, and which therefore produces 
an impurity of the juices, that accelerates death. Upon 
these are grounded the following rules : 

1st. As the natural heat of the body decreases in old 
age, one must endeavor to support and increase it ex- 
ternally as much as possible. Warm clothing, warm 
apartments and beds, heating nourishment, and, when 
it can be done, removal to a warmer climate, are all 
means, therefore, that contribute greatly to the prolon- 
gation of life. 

2nd. The food must be easy of digestion, rather 
fluid than solid ; abundant in concentrated nourish- 
ment ; and at the same time much more stimulating 
than would be advisable at an earlier period. Warm, 
strong, and well-seasoned soups, are, therefore, bene- 
ficial to old age ; and also tender roast meat, nutritive 
vegetables, good nourishing beer, and, above all, oily 
generous wine, free from acid, earthy and watery par- 
ticles, etc., such as Tokay, Spanish, Cyprus, and Cape 
wines. Wine of this kind is one of the most excellent 
stimulants of life, and that best suited to old age. It 
does not inflame, but nourishes and strengthens : it is 
milk for old people. 

3d. The tepid bath is exceedingly well calculated to 
increase the natural heat, to promote excretion, partic- 
ularly of the skin, and to lessen the aridity and stiffness 
of the whole frame. 

4th. Guard against all violent evacuations, such as 
letting blood, unless when required by particular cir- 


cumstances; strong purging, exciting perspiration by 
too much heat, indulging in excesses of any kind. 
These exhaust the few powers still remaining, and 
increase aridity. 

People, with increasing years, should accustom them- 
selves more and more to a certain order in all the vital 
operations. Eating, drinking, motion, and rest, the 
evacuations, and employment, must have their deter- 
mined periods and succession. Such mechanical order 
and regularity, at this season of life, may contribute 
greatly to the prolongation of it. 

6th. The body, however, must have exercise, but not 
violent or exhausting. That which is rather passive 
will be the best, such as riding in a carriage, and fre- 
quent friction of the whole skin, for which sweet-scent- 
ed and strong ointments may be employed with great 
advantage, in order to lessen the rigidity of the skin, and 
to preserve it in a state of softness. Violent bodily 
shocks must in particular be avoided. These, in gene- 
ral, lay a foundation for the first cause of death. 

7th. A pleasant frame of mind, and agreeable em- 
ployment for it, are here of uncommon utility ; but vio- 
lent passions, which might derange it, and which in old 
age may occasion instant death, ought to be avoided. 
That serenity and contentment which are excited by 
domestic felicity, by the pleasant review of a life 
spent not in vain, and by a consoling prospect of the 
future even on this side the grave, are the most salu- 
tary. The frame of mind best fitted and most bene- 
.ficial to old age, is that produced by intercourse with 
-children and young people. Their innocent pastime 
and youthful frolics have something which tend, as it 


were, to renovate and revive. Hope, and extending 
our views of life, are in particular noble assistants for 
this purpose. New proposals, new plans and under- 
takings, which, however, must be attended witn noth- 
ing dangerous, or that can create uneasiness, in a 
word the means of continuing life longer in idea, may 
even contribute something towards the physical pro- 
longation of it. We find, therefore, that old people are 
impelled to this as if by internal instinct. They begin 
to build houses, to lay out gardens, etc. ; and seem, 
in this little self-deception, by which they imagine they 
secure life, to find an uncommon degree of pleasure. 


Cultivation of the mental and bodily powers. 

IT is only by culture that man acquires perfection. 
If he is desirous of enjoying the preeminence of human 
nature, his spiritual as well as his physical powers must 
obtain a certain degree of expansion, refinement, and 
exaltation. In a rude and uncultivated state he is not a 
man : he is only a savage animal, who has certain dispo- 
sitions which fit him for becoming a man ; but as long as 
these dispositions are not expanded by culture, he is 
raised, neither physically nor morally, above the other 
classes of animals in the like situation. The essential 
part of man which he possesses is his susceptibility of 
perfection ; and his whole organization is so ordered 
that he may either become nothing or every thing. 

The influence, therefore, which culture has in bring- 
ing to perfection the physical man, as well as in pro- 
longing life, is highly worthy of attention. It is gen- 
erally believed that all cultivation tends to weaken and 
to shorten physical existence ; but this is the case only 
in regard to the extreme, for hyperculture, which makes 
man too delicate and refined, is as pernicious and un- 
natural as the other extreme, want of cultivation, when 
the faculties are not, or have been too little, expanded. 
33 y both these, the duration of life is shortened. Nei- 
ther the man, therefore, who by culture has become too 


tender, or who leads too sensual or too spiritual a life, 
nor the rude savage, ever attains to that term of life 
which man is actually capable of reaching. On the 
other hand, a proper and suitable degree of mental and 
bodily culture, and, in particular, a harmonic formation 
of all the powers, is, as has been already shown, abso- 
lutely requisite, before man can attain to that preemi- 
nence over animals, in his physical state and vital dura- 
tion, of which he is really susceptible. 

It is well worth the trouble to examine and explain 
more accurately the influence which real culture has in 
prolonging life, and to establish how far it differs from 
that which is false. In lengthening our existence it acts 
in the following manner : 

It expands the organs to perfection, and consequently 
renders life richer as well as fuller of enjoyment ; and 
occasions more abundant restoration. How many means 
of restoration, unknown to the savage, has the man who 
possesses a cultivated mind ! 

It renders the whole texture of the body somewhat 
softer and tenderer ; consequently lessens that too great 
hardness which impedes duration of life. 

It secures us against those destructive and life-short- 
ening causes which deprive many savages of their ex- 
istence ; such as cold, heat, the influence of the weather, 
hunger, poisonous and pernicious substances, etc. 

By reason and moral formation, it moderates and 
regulates the passionate and merely animal part within 
us ; teaches us to support misfortunes, injuries, and the 
like ; and, by these means, moderates the too violent 
and active vital consumption, which would soon destroy 


It is the foundation of social and political connections, 
by which mutual aid laws and police establishments*' 
become possible ; and these have a mediate effect in 
prolonging life. 

Lastly, it makes us acquainted with a multitude of 
convenience and means for rendering life more agree- 
able ; which are, indeed, less necessary in youth, but 
which are of the utmost importance in old age. Nour- 
ishment refined by the art of cookery, exercise made 
easier by artificial helps, more perfect refreshment and 
rest, are all advantages by which man in a cultivated 
state can support life much longer in old age, than man 
in the rude state of nature. 

From this it already appears what degree and what 
kind of culture are necessary in order to prolong life 
those which physically, as well as morally, have for 
their object the highest possible formation of our powers, 
but which are always regulated by that supreme moral 
law, to which every thing, to be good, suited to its end, 
and really beneficial, must have a relation. 






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' In his air 

Sat kingly sweetness, kind and calm command, 
Yet with long suffering blended ; for the soil 
Of dust was on his garb and sandalled sole 
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Bedropt, denied with cold and cave-like dew. 
One hand a staff of vi rent emerald held 
As 'twere a sapling of the free of life ; 
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Fluttering its wings in lightnings, thousand hued, 
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Silent he stood and gazed.' 

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reviewed casually now. In contemplating them, criticism gives place to admira- 
tion, whose speech is silence. We had intended only to introduce a few selec- 
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ORATIONS AND SPEECHES. "Another time perhaps shall 
come, worthier than ours, in which, hatreds being subdued, Truth shall 
triumph. With me desire this, O reader, and farewell! " LEIBNITZ. 2 
vols. 16mo. $ 2.50. 

" We have Mr. Sumner's printed discourses before us, and can testify from 
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of profound and universal interest. They are not productions to be laid aside 
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characteristics of the author's mind his earnestness, the union of moral fear- 
lessness and intellectual caution in the statement of his opinions, and his rever- 
ence for original principles in comparison with popular custom or fashionable 


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